The city of Paris and Lamar County officials may come together when structure fires in volunteer fire departments’ districts spark up. If approved, the $248,000 agreement would provide four Paris Fire Department firefighters to assist county volunteers during a structure fire in the county.
Paris Fire Chief Michael Vogel said he was asked by commissioners to provide a proposal to benefit city of Paris and Lamar County residents.
“(Right now), a volunteer fire department can request assistance once they are on scene and feel they need help,” Vogel said.
He said county and Paris residents would benefit from the agreement, given Lamar County commissioners approve the proposal.
“(The agreement) ensures (Lamar County residents would) receive automatic aid on reported structure fires,” Vogel said. “They will have the comfort of knowing help is on the way in on what could be a very bad day for them. There is also the possibility that the VFD can request an Insurance Service Office update which could save on insurance premiums.”
Chad Graves, Paris Firefighter and Reno VFD Chief, said VFDs would continue to be the county’s primary response agencies.
“This aid agreement came out of the need for more help in the county, especially during structure fires,” Graves said. “As (Powderly VFD) Chief Roger Bussell put it, we are blessed the vast majority of our firefighters are employed, allowing them to provide for their families.”
Graves said the agreement would help increase a positive outcome if someone is trapped in a burning building.
“In addition to helping increase life safety for our citizens and our firefighters,” Graves said, “it could possibly help lower insurance costs to the citizens of our county due to the fact that an ‘automatic aid agreement’ was in place.”
Blossom Fire Chief Jeff Stover, who was against the proposal, said he has not seen anything in writing – “nothing drawn up in paperwork.
“It’s like buying a house, you want to know what it looks like,” Stover said. “I want to know what’s going on – how everything’s laid out in it. I’m not necessarily against the extra help, but I’d like to see it in writing before I vote yes on something.”
Vogel said the agreement would put an additional firefighter on Paris’ streets each day, and the firefighter would be assigned to fire engine 1, “raising the staffing on E1 from three to four.”
He said research has shown four firefighters can accomplish twice as much as three, “Making them more efficient and safer.
“This will help reduce the loss of property and possibly a life, citizen or VFD firefighter,” Vogel said. “On average, 3,600 people die in fires per year in the U.S., that’s 1 in 90,000. Approximately 100 firefighters die in the line of duty every year, 70% of those being volunteer firefighters.”
According to Vogel, the agreement would pay for the salaries of four Texas Commission on Fire Protection-trained firefighters – a captain, engineer and two firefighters.
Vogel said if Lamar County commissioners agree with the proposal he will then take it to Paris City Council for approval.
No date has been set for when Lamar County Commissioners’ Court will take action on this item.
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