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EBR fire chiefs prepare for district consolidation talk with council

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Posted: Sep 13, 2011 10:09 PM by Ashley Rodrigue
Updated: Sep 13, 2011 10:09 PM
Source: WBRZ

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Topics: EBR, fire, chief, district, consolidation, council

BATON ROUGE- Fire chiefs across East Baton Rouge Parish met Tuesday to talk about consolidating services.

They say you'll get better protection and could save money if the deal works out.

The concept has been considered in the past and studied as recently as four years ago, but the chiefs, and at least one council member, think the idea needs to move into reality now.

Baker Fire Chief Danny Edwards says, alone, most unincorporated districts have five to ten ratings, ten being the worst, and rural homeowners are paying more insurance because of it. A consolidation would allow for a district to be shaped for a two rating. That would be accomplished by moving stations, upgrading equipment and adding manpower.

The plan would also let cities spread out their coverage in the process and drop costs for you in the long-run. However, there's a drawback.

"The biggest issue is how it would be funded and we all want to do our part," said Edwards.

First, the Metro Council has to make the call on covering costs and Mayor Pro Tem Mike Walker says overall safety and savings shouldn't be held up by one-time spending.

"Yes, there may be a start up cost, it's like running a business, you're gonna have a start up cost but you get by that start up cost and you look at what you do in the long run and saving people millions of dollars and improve their ratings and save them money on insurance in their pocketbooks," said Walker.

A gauge on the rest of council and the community comes Wednesday.

Edwards said, "Let's cross our fingers and pray that it'll happen."

Metro Council starts talking about the issue Wednesday. After that, the fire chiefs will meet to decide "what's next" on Thursday.

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