//Lowndes Fire Rescue answers FAQs about their expansion

Lowndes Fire Rescue answers FAQs about their expansion

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LCFR Expansion FAQs

What is the “County Fire” line on my assessment notice?

Lowndes County is moving forward with the expansion of Lowndes County Fire Rescue to meet the growing needs of the unincorporated area. The information below does not include the significant growth that began the first of 2021.

Is the increase in my assessment notice only due to the “County Fire” assessment?

It depends. While the new assessment will account for an increase, an increase in the overall value as determined by the Board of Assessors may also contribute to an increase.

Am I not already paying property taxes for fire protection?

No. For the past 13 years, fire protection in the unincorporated area of Lowndes County has been funded from the county’s Special Services Fund. This fund is made up of unincorporated revenue other than property tax dollars (occupational tax fees, alcohol license fees, land disturbance permits, etc.). Due to the Service Delivery Strategy Act, fire services in the unincorporated area cannot be funded from the current, county wide millage. In Lowndes County the county wide millage funds county wide services only. It does not fund those services that are provided to the unincorporated area only, like fire protection.

The Special Services Fund is not a fund that typically experiences revenue growth. This being the case, a dedicated millage for the unincorporated area is being set to fund the fire department expansion.

When will I see an expansion in fire services?

Stations are scheduled to stand up in the following order:

• Clyattville: September 2021 (First because the facility is ready. The first recruit class will begin June 16.)
• Bemiss: April 2022 (Second and will include a bay for EMS that will put an ambulance on the Bemiss corridor.)
• North Lowndes: July 2022 (Third because a new station is being built since the widening of 41 N will overcome the current site and because the current station is not built to house paid staff.)

The expansion of fire services is scheduled to be completed within the same year the millage is set. Further, the plan provides for fire protection for all of the unincorporated area of Lowndes County, not just those locations with higher residential density.

Why are three stations being added?

Fire services respond to more than just fire. The majority of calls run by fire departments in our community are medical calls & vehicle accidents. The response times to the more rural parts of the unincorporated area are not satisfactory. The placement of the three new stations along with the current location of Station 10 on Highway 84 East provides better coverage to the entire county.

I live in a rural area without hydrants, how does this help me?

Due to most of the unincorporated area being without hydrants, Lowndes County Fire Rescue is NOT dependent upon hydrants as a water supply. In fact, some hydrant locations do not have enough pressure to successfully support a fire attack. This being the case, tanker apparatus are strategically located across Lowndes County to allow firefighters to bring a water supply as part of their response.

What does this mean for volunteer firefighters in Lowndes County?

Since the beginning of fire services in Lowndes County, volunteer firefighters have played an important role. Prior to 2005, they were the only source of fire personnel in the unincorporated area. With the expansion, volunteer firefighters will continue to be a valued resource. Currently, the volunteer firefighters in Lowndes County are some of the most experienced/trained personnel in our ranks. Their role is not diminished by this expansion. The expansion does create 43 local jobs. Four of the first firefighters hired for the Clyattville station are currently volunteer firefighters that will be transitioning to a full-time role.