Weatherford Democrat

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July 25, 2012

Firefighters ask county for more funds

Money sought for 24-hour dispatch

WEATHERFORD —  

Around the clock fire dispatch is the cornerstone of a new funding plan that Parker County fire fighting entities proposed to county commissioners last week, according to Deputy Chief Greg Stone, of Central Community Volunteer Fire Department. 

Stone introduced the plan — which would require $85,000 more in county funding than last year — to commissioners during a special budget session.

He made the presentation as a member of a subcommittee for the Parker County Fire Chiefs Advisory Board, which has been working on a funding proposal since January.

“Our funding last year was cut to $750,000, from $800,000,” he said. “We’ve asked for our $50,000 back, plus $35,000 to cover dispatch.”

In 2010-2011, all fire dispatching was provided by the sheriff’s office dispatch, Stone noted in his presentation, but in 2011-2012, 66 percent of the fire dispatching was picked up by funds redirected from the individual fire departments.

Currently, dispatch services dedicated to fire calls are only available between 9 a.m. to midnight, Stone said, with the sheriff’s office fielding the night calls. 

“That’s the absolute slowest time,” Stone said, “but the sheriff’s department has their own increased volume on the law enforcement side. We have several dispatchers with dispatch and fire service experience that speak the language; it would give us better lines of communication.”

If the increase is approved, Stone said, the new 24-hour dispatch would also take in Emergency Services District No. 1, including Springtown, LaJunta, Peaster and the Silver Creek departments, currently dispatched out of Springtown. 

“Springtown has poor radio reception, and we’re hoping communications will improve,” Stone said. “We also handle a lot of calls for Springtown. This way the dispatch would be direct.”   

The court took no action on the proposal; Judge Mark Riley said requests for additional funds would only be considered once budget revenues and expenses were fully understood.

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