published Friday, July 5th, 2013

Dayton aid to Rhea County firefighters may be automatic

DAYTON, Tenn. — Fire officials are asking the Dayton City Council's approval to join with Rhea County officials in an automatic aid agreement for high-risk residents.

"Rhea County is in a rebuilding phase," said Adam McRorie, the city's assistant fire chief, and the one-year agreement would assist it.

McRorie said recent fires at Rhea County Elementary School and Life Care Center of Rhea County had left both places at risk because of the county's response time and the existing mutual-aid agreement.

An automatic aid agreement, he said, would allow the city to respond quickly without delays.

Vice Mayor Steve Randolph said, "I see the benefit," but noted that Life Care is a business outside city limits. Randolph asked if an automatic-aid agreement would create liability issues or further increase vulnerability for city residents in need.

McRorie said, "We always hold crews in reserve."

Mayor Gary Louallen asked if the department had received the grant to buy the "jaws of life" tool to assist with vehicular accidents.

McRorie said they had received a $9,000 Government Highway Safety Office grant this year that was used to help purchase smaller rescue tools such as chains and hacksaws.

Police Chief Chris Sneed said most of that grant was needed for training the two departments in procedural techniques. The "jaws" would cost upward of $20,000, Sneed said.

In other matters, City Manager Frank Welch said state regulators approved rebuilding the damaged rock wall along the walking track at Richland Creek.

Welch said repairs could cost from $75,000 to $100,000.

The council unanimously authorized Welch to advertise for estimates.

During the budgetary second reading at last week's special meeting, councilmen approved the proposed $47.8 million city budget and increasing water and sewer rates. Property taxes won't increase for the next year.

The new water rates, effective Oct. 1, include inside city limits at a $10.39 minimum per 1,000 gallons, and outside city limits at a $15.30 minimum.

Sewer rates will change for users inside city limits to $5.80 or a $12 minimum per 1,000 gallons, with users outside city limits at $8.70.

Kimberly McMillian is based in Rhea County. Contact her at kdj424@ bellsouth.net.

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