Bradley County Fire-Rescue Chief Troy Maney said the department should be charging for permits for first-time inspections on a new business and reinspections if a return visit is necessary and the issues are not fixed.
“Every other city around here requires this,” Maney said. “This is the only county we do not do that in. I just see it as a way for the fire department to make some money to put toward our education or education for the public to let them know what we are about as far as a safe community and what is expected.”
Fire Board member Louie Alford suggested the chief prepare a study for members to see that gives the specifics of how other counties handle the same matter.
Maney said the information would be available next month.
The chief also said they are investigating whether the department can write the citations for illegal burns.
Currently, the county environmental officer is doing that task and $15 of the fine goes to the Sheriff’s Office and not the fire department.
“We want to look at why we can’t do it and the revenue go into the arson fund, because that could be $4,000 to $5,000 a year we are leaving on the table,” Maney said.
He said the department knows it can legally make the move, but is having the county attorney review the matter.
“I don’t want the Commission meeting filled every night with people we have written citations to,” Maney said.
Fire Board member Ed Elkins said the move should be done prior to a new budget being produced because it would change the revenue streams for both the fire and sheriff’s departments.
Maney said if the citations are written as a state citation it is $150, but the Sheriff’s Office only gets $15 of that amount.
“We want to write it on a county citation and no matter the fine, all of that comes back to the county,” Maney said.
Assistant Chief Donnie Sullivan said Environmental Officer Keith Edwards is doing an excellent job, “but this is stuff we can do.”
“We really need to be doing the fire stuff anyway,” Sullivan said. “Keith has enough to do outside of the fire stuff, and he wants the relief.”
Board members agreed to wait on word from the county attorney and an opinion from Judge Daniel Swafford before finalizing a motion to recommend to the full County Commission.
Maney also reported the department has responded to 188 calls over the last month — 58 of those were medical first responder calls.
The department began its First Responder program last month and is continuing to monitor what kind of calls and from what areas they come in order to fine-tune the program.
Board members voted to pare back the original request that Maney report to the County Commission on a monthly basis, instead calling for that report on a quarterly schedule.