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Catoosa and Walker counties will continue their partnership to provide each other with automatic dispatches for fires close to county lines.

Their recently renewed contract is one of many similar deals between nearby counties to help ensure quick response times and add to the number of experienced responders on the scene at commercial and residential fires.

The agreement calls for Catoosa firefighters to automatically respond to fires if they are physically closer than the nearest Walker County station, and vice versa.

"Not only do you have our other stations to benefit from," Catoosa Fire Chief Randy Camp said, "but we also have the full-time personnel and volunteers of Walker County fire that can automatically be en route to assist us in that time of need."

According to Walker County Fire Chief Black Hodge, most local governments are already part of mutual-aid agreements in which firefighters from other areas will come to help when called by other firefighters, but the automatic-aid contract immediately dispatches responders across county lines when a call comes in from a residence or business within the contract boundaries.

"We can just get on the radio now and be mutual aid," Hodge said, "but that automatic aid is more safety first for the firefighters and the homeowners that may be trapped in a house and need the quick response."

There is no cost on the part of either county and the contract will last for two years.

The improved response times will also help with each county's insurance rating, Hodge added.

"We don't have the financial means to staff every station, so we're trying to look at how we can better responses and bring in better resources to help shore up this grade that we have so we can keep insurance premiums as low as they are," he said.

Walker County Sole Commissioner Shannon Whitfield signed his approval of the contract on Nov. 19, while Catoosa's Board of Commissioners approved their half of the agreement on Nov. 17.

Contact Tierra Hayes at tierrathejournalist@gmail.com.

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