01/18/09 — Commission approves new fire districts map

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Commission approves new fire districts map

By Steve Herring
Published in News on January 18, 2009 2:00 AM

The new Wayne County fire districts map approved earlier this month by commissioners did little more than fine tune district lines, and perhaps more importantly, signal the first step toward simplifying a three-map system into a unified one.

The two remaining steps are to merge the fire tax districts and 911 response boundaries with the fire district map.

The new fire district lines eliminate some overlapping of districts while folding other areas that were once outside, into nearby districts.

County Fire Marshal Bryan Taylor told commissioners that only two districts had swapped property because of new lines. That change, he said, had been asked for by the fire chiefs in the two departments.

He explained that six or seven parcels in the area of Old Smithfield Road and Rosewood Road moved from Rosewood to Oakland.

Some departments, he added, have 6-mile districts while others have 5. The distance is measured in road miles.

Being inside a fire district, even a 6-mile one, has insurance advantages for homeowners who pay lower premiums.

The 6-mile districts are Dudley, Elroy, Eureka, Northern Wayne, Grantham, Indian Springs, Jordans Chapel, Little River, Mar Mac, Waylin, New Hope, Oakland, Rosewood, Smith Chapel, Thoroughfare and Moseley Hall (overlap from LaGrange in Lenoir County).

Five-mile districts are Antioch, Arrington, Belfast, East Wayne, Faro, Nahunta, Patetown, Pleasant Grove, Pinewood, Polly Watson, Pricetown, Saulston, Seven Springs and Boon Hill (overlap from Johnston County).

Over the years commissioners have been asked to adjust district lines as overlaps and other inconsistencies have come to light, Taylor said.

Taylor said the state Fire Marshal's Office had recommended that the piecemeal efforts be replaced by a total approach.

"The state recommends that you don't have any overlaps or lapses," he said. "We tried to stay as close to existing fire districts as possible using natural boundaries."

Commission Chairman Bud Gray, who has more than 40 years in the fire service, said the state did not require the new map. However, he said that if it had not been done then some fire departments might not have been able to pass their state inspections.

Joe Gurley, director of the Office of Emergency Services, said merging the three maps would "be beneficial for everybody." Gurley pointed out that the project had been ongoing for several years.

The next step, once it has been cleared by county attorney Borden Parker, is to have the tax district lines mirror the fire district lines. The final step will be the response districts.

It is vital, he said, that a person's address be listed in the correct fire district.

The efforts, Gurley said, will likely take six months.

County planner Connie Price added that a unified map will make it easier to assign new subdivisions to the correct fire district.

Commissioner Steve Keen asked if any fire department's budget had lost or gained because of the changes.

Gurley responded that there were probably some "minor loses and some minor gains," but that they "did not see any large impact."