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Perry officials plan options to bring on more firefighters in near future

Perry's fire chief along with the city manager have come up with a way to support the addition of firefighters.
PERRY, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - City officials in Perry are trying to figure out how they're going get new firefighters in the city, they opened up a new fire station almost a year ago and have had to have crews split their time between there and the main station. 

Key players say they've got a plan, and it'll take some input from residents to make it a reality. 

"There's nothing worse, to me, than the times of the day when both trucks are out already committed on a call, and we're having to worry about what are we going to do when that third call comes in," Perry Fire Chief Joel Gray said. 

It's a stressful situation piled on top of an already stressful job. 

Gray is putting his head together with city officials on how they're going to be able to bring in new firefighters.

City council would like to see anywhere between nine and 15 new hires, but it's not that easy. 

City manager Lee Gilmour says he and his staff have come up with a way to make it happen. 

There are currently two options. 

Increasing property taxes... 

"Their concern, if they just go with the millage rate, would be that could take approximately two and a half mils, and that would push our millage rate higher than they are comfortable with, but it may be the option that is most preferred by the community," Gilmour said. 

Or use a "firefighter" fee that would be assessed to both residential and commercial property owners estimated at about $106. 

The decision needs to happen before the next fiscal year begins on July 1st. 

"A lot of it goes back to what the city's ISO rating would be, and how many firefighters and back up staff would be necessary to decrease our ISO rating, and therefore reduce the cost of property insurance," Gilmour said. 

Gray thinks the sooner the better. 

"One of our biggest concerns is not being able to affect a rescue in a house, and or worse yet, having somebody get hurt needlessly be it a civilian or one of us, just because there's not enough there's not enough folks there to do it the way all of our standards say we should," Gray said. 

How soon will we see new firefighters in Perry?

Gilmour says it all depends on where the funding comes from. If it comes from the proposed "firefighter fee", he says a new crew could be on board fairly quickly. If the millage increase route is chosen then new firefighters won't be hired until December or January. 

The firefighters would be brought on by phases. 

Currently, there are two crews with three members on duty at all times. 

Phase one, would bring on three new firefighters, which would increase the the crews to three.

Phase two, would bring an additional firefighter to each shift. 

Phase three, would add additional firefighters to existing crews. 

And phase four, additional management staff (3 battalion chiefs and 3 fire sergeants) would be added on. 

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