Madison Co. volunteer fire departments to be evaluated - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Madison Co. volunteer fire departments to be evaluated

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The last analysis, performed in 1977, created the position of the county fire marshal. The last analysis, performed in 1977, created the position of the county fire marshal.
MADISON COUNTY, AL (WAFF) -

Madison County leaders are hoping for better fire protection, and maybe better fire insurance rates from a new analysis of the county's volunteer fire departments.

Wednesday, the Top of Alabama Regional Council of Governments presented its plans to evaluate how well the county's volunteer fire departments are doing and how they could be improved, in the first such analysis in decades.

"It's past due time."

Madison County Fire Marshal Bobby Rollins said after almost 40 years, the county's volunteer fire departments need an update for the consequences of changing times.

"Increased volume in medical emergencies, increased overall call volume – these are things already being experienced by volunteer fire departments," said Beverly Zendt.

Zendt is with the Top of Alabama Regional Council of Governments (TARCOG). She rolled out for the county commission TARCOG's plans to analyze the fire departments.

The last time TARCOG did this kind of breakdown in 1977, it brought the creation of the Fire Marshal's office, the county's fire code, and the fire tax to pay for it.

Commission members agreed it is time, as the current system runs into problems including missed calls.

"I think that it is ludicrous for someone to have a problem and make a call to an agency for protection and not be able to get that service," said Madison County Commissioner Bob Harrison.

Fire service improvements could mean better fire insurance rates for homeowners.

"Our hope is just to keep low fire insurance to the residents of unincorporated Madison County, and then also to evaluate our commercial growth and retail growth that we've got in Madison County," said Dale Strong, Madison County Commission Chairman.

The evaluation was requested by the county's Volunteer Fire Departments Association, with an eye towards getting some unvarnished advice for improving fire protection.

"The problem that you get into over time is you get stale," Rollins said. "If the fire service is standing still, they're going backwards."

The TARCOG analysis started in February with questionnaires and interviews with Madison County fire chiefs. It is scheduled to last until September.

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