County authorizes mutual aid agreements

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, September 21, 2022

The county approved an updated mutual aid agreement with the City of LaGrange as well as a statewide agreement during the Troup County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday evening.

During the earlier work session, Fire Chief Michael Strickland advised that he has been working with LaGrange Fire Chief John Brant to iron out details and update coverage area maps as part of the mutual aid agreement between the county and LaGrange.

“With the addition of Station 14 at the airport opening up, we were having to reconfigure some areas out that way,” Strickland said. “We’re trying to work as well as we can together to provide maximum services to the citizens of LaGrange and Troup County by sending the closest fire station.”

Under the previous automatic aid agreement, the county would typically only send the station on Hamilton Road wherever the call was in the city.

“Obviously, there are stations that can cover some areas better,” Strickland said.

“In some cases, LaGrange will fill in our first alarm assignment with one of their engines, which will be able to allow one of our engines to stay back and provide coverage to the county. “The bottom line is we’re just trying to work together to provide the citizens of the city and the county the best possible fire, rescue and EMS services.”

With automatic aid, the closest jurisdiction responds and starts providing services, regardless of whether it’s in the city or the county. The primary agency can then respond for backup and take over if needed.

Strickland said the automatic aid agreement is useful for islands of the county within the city, particularly along Lafayette Pkwy. Troup 911 computer systems will be able to automatically send out the closes station, regardless of whose jurisdiction the emergency is in.

Under the agreement, neither party would be required to compensate the other for mutual aid services rendered.

The county also approved joining the Georgia Mutual Aid Group (GMAG) after what appears to be an oversight with a previous effort to do so.

“Quite honestly, I thought through Troup County was already a member of this, but when I did a little bit of digging into it, I realized that we technically were not,” Strickland said.

The agreement was previously discussed under the tenure of former Troup County Fire Chief John Ekaitis, but it never actually got voted on by the Board of Commissioners, said County Manager Eric Mosley.

“We actually drew up an agreement,” confirmed County Attorney Jerry Willis.

GMAG a statewide organization that breaks down the state into regions for mutual aid. Troup County is part of area four, which closely mirrors the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) region. GMAG Area 4 covers 25 counties.

“If something were to happen here in Troup County, we would work with our automatic and mutual aid partners to mitigate and solve the problem. But if we were overwhelmed, we could reach out to GMAG and request assistance from other departments to send whatever resources we may need,” Strickland said.

“There’s no cost to join to join [GMAG],” he said. “The only cost involved would be if Troup County resources were deployed to another county.”

Both mutual aid agreements were unanimously approved.