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Vidalia, Concordia Fire District No. 2 sign agreement

 

VIDALIA — The Vidalia Fire Department and the Concordia Parish Fire District No. 2 have entered into an agreement that could get firefighters to emergencies more quickly.

The automatic aid agreement will send dispatches to both Vidalia Fire Department and the Concordia Parish Fire District No. 2 during an emergency, rather than one of the departments having to get to a scene and call for backup.

“It gives both of us additional manpower automatically,” Concordia Parish Fire District No. 2 Chief Nolan Cothren said. “It may also allow one of us to get to a scene quicker. In fact, we had a fire recently at the Country Estates Trailer Park, which is right across the road from Vidalia Fire Department, and they can be there in seconds.”

The fire district will respond in all of Vidalia, Cothren said, and Vidalia responds as far as Airport Road to the north and as far south as D.A. Biglane Road.

“If there is something major going on in Vidalia, we are already en route and that will double their manpower,” Cothren said. “And that’s true vice versa. It is going to work better for everybody.”

Cothren said a truck from either fire department would be automatically dispatched. Cothren said if, for example, Vidalia Fire Department were to get to a fire first and call the backup off, the fire district responders would stand by.

“We would stand by in a parking lot in case something else happens we would be ready to respond to the fire,” Cothren said. “If we get a call, we have two minutes to get out of the station. You have so many seconds from the time the alarm goes off to get on the scene. If we can stay inside that, we are doing good.”

Vidalia Mayor Buz Craft said he is glad to see this agreement in place.

“Last time we had a fire in Vidalia, we had as many Concordia Parish Fire District (No 2) trucks and men on the ground as we did Vidalia,” Craft said. “The more people you have respond to a situation like a fire, I think the better.”

Manpower and water capacity of the trucks on scene are factors in fire ratings, and if the rating improves, it could lower residents’ fire protection insurance. Vidalia’s fire rating is a three and the fire district’s rating is a six.

Training is also a factor and Cothren said the Vidalia and the fire district would train together.

Fire ratings are on a scale of 1 to 10, with the lower number being the best.

“We are scheduling meetings with the people that handle this to talk with them more at length,” Craft said. “We are not up for review until 2020.”

Cothren said the fire district is being reviewed this October. Cothren said the agreement would help, but he was not sure if it would be enough to improve the rating.

“They have changed the system, and some pay departments have gone up to a class one, but for volunteer departments like us it is tough,” Cothren said.

Craft said he is glad to see the regional cooperation.

“We feel like we should all work together,” he said. “If it helps fire ratings for the parish and the town, I don’t know why we wouldn’t do that.”