published Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Whitfield County eyes merger of fire units


The next charter commission meeting will be at 2 p.m. July 20 at the Whitfield County commissioners’ meeting room across from the county courthouse in Dalton.

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DALTON, Ga. — The commission created to study a merger of Dalton and Whitfield County governments learned Wednesday about ladder trucks, ISO ratings and exactly how much money it will cost to combine city and county fire departments Wednesday afternoon.

The recently formed 15-member commission is tasked with deciding whether the two governments should merge and writing a charter if they recommend a merger.

At the beginning of the two-hour meeting — the commission’s first discussion of nuts and bolts — Chairman Frank Thomason reminded members they must make a decision by the end of this year. If they decide to recommend a merger, that gives them time to write a charter and work with state legislators by an April deadline.

The county and city fire chiefs told members a merger of their departments would require additional personnel at a cost of about $9.5 million to both departments.

City Chief Bruce Satterfield stressed that he was not speaking to oppose or support consolidation, but said he thinks it is important that citizens realize exactly how consolidation will impact their fire services.

Combining the two departments without adding additional fire stations or purchasing more equipment likely would mean the entire county would have an Insurance Services Office rating of 4. The city now has a rating of 2 and the county a rating of 5.

about Mariann Martin...

Mariann Martin covers healthcare in Chattanooga and the surrounding region. She joined the Times Free Press in February 2011, after covering crime and courts for the Jackson (Tenn.) Sun for two years. Mariann was born in Indiana, but grew up in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Belize. She graduated from Union University in 2005 with degrees in English and history and has master’s degrees in international relations and history from the University of Toronto. While attending Union, ...

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