LFD presents annual report to city council

Published 6:59 pm Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Every day, local firefighters suit up, rush down the streets and — more often than not — respond to medical calls, from citizens, with only 176 of the 4,881 calls for service in 2018 relating to fires.

On Tuesday, LaGrange Fire Chief John Brant delivered the LFD 2018 annual report to the LaGrange City Council during its regular work session. According to the annual report, the LFD responded to 4,881 calls for service in 2018, which was up from 4,661 calls in 2017. Of that number, only a surprisingly small percentage of calls that the fire department responded to were fire related.

“Only 3.6 percent of those were actually fire calls — 74.26 being medical responses,” Brant said. “That is an increase of about 4 percent from last year.”

According to the report, the department also responded to 572 false alarms in 2018, and Brant said that the LFD is working with the fire marshal and local business owners to lower that number. With those numbers in mind, the LFD has made a point of pursuing accreditations that will benefit citizens and recognize the department’s prevention efforts. 

“We got accredited on Aug. 8 through the Commission of Fire Accreditation International,” Brant said. “We went out to Dallas and presented our model to the commission and received accreditation status. There are only 239 accredited fire departments in the nation. There are only 10 in the State of Georgia, so we were very proud of that.”

Additionally, the LFD received a review of its Insurance Service Organization, and Brant said he anticipates that the department will maintain an ISO rating of two. ISO ratings impact insurance rates in the fire department’s coverage area.

“That puts us in the top 3 percent of departments across the nation in ISO ratings,” Brant said. “There are only 1,597 departments across the nation that have reached that goal.”

Brant said the department is currently working toward a medical accreditation that will make it possible for the LFD to have a paramedic program in the fire department. The department recently began an EMT program, according to Brant, and has 31 EMTs and 20 paramedics on its 61-person staff, which also includes three prevention, four administration and two maintenance employees.

In 2018, the LFD had three battalions of 17 that cover four fire stations. A fifth fire station is expected to open later this year, and it is expected to further improve response times. The LFD’s average response time in 2018 was 4 minutes 41 seconds, which was 50 seconds better than its response time in 2017, but 10 seconds worse than its 2016 response time. Brant said that part of the difference from year to year is where the calls originate from and where units were when the calls came in. He said that he was working to cut down on response times with a focus on dispatch and getting firefighters on the trucks faster. He said the department’s goal response time is 1 minute and 30 seconds, which is the national standard. A response time under 7 minutes 50 seconds is required to maintain the LFD’s ISO score.

The stations respond to calls for service in the city and parts of Troup County. According to the report, Station 1 handled 1,401 calls in 2018, while Station 2 handled 1,172 calls, Station 3 handled 748 calls and Station 4 handled 1,475 calls. Brant said that Station 5 will divide Station 2 and Station 4’s area, with Station 1 expected to serve the highest call volume.

In terms of prevention, according to the annual report, the LFD made contact with more than 3,700 citizens through outreach efforts like Citizen’s Day at LaGrange Mall. The department performed 2,796 initial fire inspections and re-inspections and conducted 2,634 pre-fire plans with risk assessment within the LaGrange city limits in 2018.

Council Member Nathan Gaskin asked if smaller vehicles would improve response times on medical calls. Brant said that they would, but they could hurt the city’s ISO rating. Firefighters on a medical call in a smaller vehicle would not be able to immediately travel to a fire from a medical call without returning to the station to retrieve the firetruck, which could hurt the response time.

Brant was promoted to LFD chief in October 2018.

Other items discussed by the LaGrange City Council on Tuesday included:

4Gaskin asked that any future railroad crossing closures be forwarded directly to the hospital and E911 to ensure that out-of-town ambulances will be able to make necessary changes to routes to the hospital. The current railroad closures were posted on the city and county Facebook pages and in the newspaper.

4The city council called for a public hearing on the annexation of several properties on Whitesville Road at the request of the owners. The Troup County Board of Commissioners has viewed the request and did not speak against it. The annexation would be dependent dilapidated or out of code signage on certain properties making the request. 

4The city council held a public hearing and first reading to rezone 705 Campbell Street from residential (R-2) to general commercial (C-3). There was no public comment.

The LaGrange City Council will meet again on March 26 at 5:30 p.m. at 208 Ridley Ave.