SPRINGVILLE – The one and only fire district in St. Clair County is the Davis Lake Fire District. Registered voters in that district went to the polls June 5 and overwhelmingly agreed to become a fire district.
Others throughout the county are volunteer fire departments or city fire departments.
There were 360 who voted on the fire district, of which 260 voted in favor (72 percent) and 100 who voted against it (28 percent).
Jimmy Briggs has been fire chief since March 1, 2018, but has been a member of Davis Lake for the past five years.
“The previous chief and I worked together at another fire department,” Briggs said. “He asked me to come along and help him out. Our goal was to make this a fire district.”
Now that Davis Lake is a fire district, there will be paid personnel at the station.
“We are going to start out with 12 hour shifts,” Briggs said. “That will be 7 p.m.-7 a.m. I will be here during the day, every day. There will be some paid EMTs here at night. Basically, there will be someone here 24/7.”
Briggs said he was not surprised by the vote because they went door-to-door talking to people about the issue.
“Everybody we talked to was in favor of it, and it showed in the vote,” he said.
Currently, Davis Lake serves 700 rooftops. They assist the Springville Fire Department with mutual aid. Briggs said there is a great working relationship with the Springville Fire Department.
Currently, there are 12 volunteers with Davis Lake and the one paid position is the fire chief. Briggs said now that they have their own fire district, they are looking to grow.
Briggs also said the current ISO rating is a 3, and has been since May 1.
“We recently were graded in December, and we went from a 5 to a 3,” Briggs said. “They come out every five years to grade us. Going from a 5 to a 3 is really going to help the people we serve with insurance costs. The lower ISO rating will also help us with grants in getting more fire equipment and supplies that we need. Our volunteers and members will have to go and receive more training now that we are a fire district. They will have to continue their education. They are willing, able and ready to go.”
Firefighter and training officer Dale Trottier said as a fire district, they will be allowed to start hiring full-time, paid firefighters and medics who will be at the station 12 to 24 hours a day.
“What it means for the community is a much faster response time on our calls, more equipment and better trained firefighters rather than just a volunteer,” Trottier said. “Volunteers can be trained here and they can also go to a 160 course, or a fire college course. There are plenty of opportunities for someone to start at the volunteer firefighter level and go on to become a paid, full-time firefighter/medic for any fire department in the state of Alabama. What any fire department needs are volunteers.”
Jim Garrett, public information officer for Davis Lake, said they are proud that the majority of the voters in the district put their trust in Davis Lake.
Reach Gary Hanner at ghanner @ thestclairtimes.com.