The Monroe County Fire Department will be driving 12 shiny new red fire trucks soon at a cost of $6 million.
Monroe County commissioners voted 3-1 to borrow $6 million to buy a dozen new fire trucks on Tuesday.
The vote came despite commissioner George Emami’s arguments against the proposal from county manager Jim Hedges. Emami said that the county already spends more per person than the 17 other counties of similar size in Georgia.
“I’m not convinced this is a good financial decision,” said Emami. “This is a lot of money we’re financing.”
Emami noted that Jones County spends significantly less on fire service than Monroe County, less than half, yet has the same ISO fire insurance rating. He said Jones County has figured out that most homes that catch fire in rural areas become a total loss. So instead of buying new fire trucks, they’re buying small trucks that enable a quicker response to focus on making sure everyone is out.
“If my home catches fire,” said Emami, “I hope it burns all the way down. I don’t want to build it back half way. I do want the lives of my family protected and so what they’re doing (in Jones County) is pretty smart.”
Emami asked fire chief Matt Jackson point blank if he can guarantee that spending $6 million will ensure the county earns a lower ISO fire insurance rating, which can lower home insurance premiums.
“I can’t,” said Jackson.
But District 1 commissioner Lamarcus Davis said the county is overdue to buy new fire trucks.
“We should have done this 10 years ago,” said Davis.
Davis said Jones County doesn’t have I-75 which means a lot more fire calls in Monroe County. And he said the 6-year bumper-to-bumper warranty on all 12 fire trucks gives the county security.
District 3 commissioner John Ambrose said the cost of fire trucks is going way up so it’s a good time to buy.
“We can’t go wrong,” said Ambrose.
Commissioner Eddie Rowland was absent.
The county is buying the trucks from HME thru Brackett Fire Equipment in Rockmart. The county will finance the fire trucks at about $600,000 per year over 10 years for the trucks at about 2 percent interest. They haven’t decided whether to trade in their all their old fire trucks.