Fire Protection Main Focus For Jacksonville City Council

By Benjamin Cox on January 28, 2020 at 9:04am

The Jacksonville City Council spent their evening focused on public protection last night. Morgan County Emergency Management Coordinator Phil McCarty told the council during the workshop session last night that 4 emergency sirens and poles in the city needed replacing. The equipment, he said was placed in the late 90s and needs to be updated before the poles fall over and the equipment or personal property get damaged. McCarty said there should be no effect to residents, only that they may occasionally see a utility truck in the areas near the sirens doing work. McCarty estimates the cost to be about approximately $60,000 because a new siren costs about $25,000. The bids will be going to Scott Brothers Electric in Jacksonville to replace the sirens.

Fire Chief Doug Sills bookended the night with a full 2019 report of the Fire Department. Sills said it was a historic year for the department, as it implemented several new community programs, implemented training to create a technical rescue team – the first in the area, and moved the Jacksonville community Insurance Service Office rating to Class 3, just a few points shorts of a Class 2 rating. Sills said that had some of the new programs been implemented sooner in the community, the Class 2 rating would have probably been achieved. He says he expects it to happen in 2 years when the city is re-evaluated.

Sills says that parts of a long-term plan is starting to come full circle for the department. “We’ve revamped the department from top to bottom, but we’ve done it with a plan. The response time, in respect to those, some of the things I didn’t get into tonight with the council is that our response times indicate our stations are properly located. Right now, we don’t need any adjustments because our response times are so good and we are getting to the scenes a lot quicker.”

Sills said that the fire department averages about 4 and a half minutes to the scene once a call comes into West Central Dispatch for an emergency response. He says the national standard requirement is 6 minutes. Sills said that the department responded to over 3200 calls last year, a 10% increase from the year before. He says the breakdown of the calls are 69% emergency service calls and 31% fire calls. Sills says the department may be looking at limiting responses to tax exempt properties in the city in the future, but it is something that is still being investigated and discussed in public protection committee meetings before a new procedure is implemented.