The city of Dayton Council voted Monday night to add more members to the Dayton Police and Fire Departments.
Newly appointed Fire Chief Justin Jackson, who took over in January upon the retirement of Chief Chuck Suttles, approached the City Council and requested three additional new firefighters.
"The ISO (International Organization for Standardization) requires that we respond two engines and a ladder truck on every fire call. Once we get those there, we have enough volunteers to cover the rest,” said Chief Jackson.
He told the council that at a fire recently they had 18 volunteers show up besides the regular paid crew.
Vice Mayor Steve Randolph said that this is some four months before the start of a new budget, “but this is something that we have got to do.” He also asked which of the two stations the ladder truck would be coming from.
Chief Jackson responded that an engine and ladder truck from station one plus an engine from station two would respond to all the calls.
“We will only bring out the tower truck if it’s a large fire because it requires a lot of manpower to work it,” said Chief Jackson.
The chief also requested to raise the current pay status of those volunteer firefighters who show up to fires and to required training from $7.50 to $10 an hour and, depending on certifications, it could go up to $12.50 an hour.
Council agreed with him on this and made it effective with March 1.
Chief Jackson also brought to the council's attention that a lot of the equipment that the Dayton Fire Department is using is getting close to expiring in its usefulness.
“Right now I just have one helmet to give out to new firemen. Sixty five percent of the equipment expires in the next few months,” he said.
Vice Mayor Randolph made the motion to get equipment with a second by Councilman Bobby Doss. Vice Mayor Randolph said, as the other equipment expires, to go ahead and get replacements for them.
Mayor Hurley Marsh emphatically stated to the council and the audience, “Safety is First. I want these firemen to have the best equipment we can give them.”
The mayor also praised both the firefighters and police officers of the city thanking them for the job that they do.
He also requested the Council to work with Rhea County 911 Director Shane Clark on a protocol for what the fire department responds to.
“We spend anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes on a sick call waiting for EMS. Once we make contact with a patient we are 'married' to them until someone of higher medical training gets on the scene,” said Chief Jackson.
“It's sure a waste of resources to send a $250,000 fire truck to a doctors office to wait for an ambulance,” he said.
Council members said they had no problem with Chief Jackson working out a new protocol. City Attorney Susan Arnold just added that he needs to meet with MTAS (University of Tennessee Municipal Technical Advisory Service) fire management consultants to see what they have to say about changing the protocols.
Dayton Police Chief Tracy Blevins requested one additional officer to be hired to work a split shift from the hours of 2 p.m. to 2 a.m., which is the busiest time of the activity for the Police Department.
“We have one person doing this now, but I would like to add one more so there is a person working split shifts on both rotations,” he said
Both chiefs brought the City Council up to date on what is happening with the current radio system.
“We could go on eBay and buy a lot of radios, but the Chattanooga Radio Shop won't add them to the system. APX P25 Two-Way Radios is what they are wanting us to use,” he said.
P25 refers to the Project 25 (P25) that develops standards for interoperable land mobile radio (LMR) systems so emergency responders can exchange critical communications across agencies and jurisdictions. P25 standardizes interfaces between the various components of the LMR systems emergency responders use.
As a joint effort of APCO (Association of Public Safety Communications Officials) and the National Association of State Telecommunications Directors, Project 25 is a long-standing partnership between the public safety communications community, standard development organizations and industry manufacturers. Each group’s end goal is to satisfy the complex and evolving mission-critical communication needs of users for interoperable equipment and systems. APCO has been standard in police communications since 1935.
“The Fire Department is going to have to work on buying them out right. We are looking for grants for these radios. The Police Department may have access to a grant that is for law enforcement only that would provide theirs, said Chief Jackson.
Chief Blevins added that both departments have applied for Firehouse Sub Shop grants. Firehouse provides funds for various agencies in the U.S. through contributions from customers. The money is then forwarded to community first responders A maximum of 600 grant applications will be accepted on a quarterly basis.