Response times for fire calls on Burnt Mountain in west Dawson County can range from 12 to 15 minutes.
Fire officials and residents hoping to trim that wait plan to ask the board of commissioners on Thursday to approve an agreement with Pickens County that would put a fire station on the mountain.
“There is significant risk anytime we have a fire in the area due to the distance and terrain as we have to climb the mountain with trucks,” said Billy Thurmond, director of Dawson County Emergency Services. “The new fire station will enhance the capabilities of fighting fires in the Wildcat Community and also allow us to lower the ISO rating in the area.”
The area on and around Burnt Mountain, known as the Wildcat Community, is one of only two areas in the county that received an ISO rating of 10 earlier this year when examiners evaluated fire services in Dawson County. The higher an ISO rating, the more homeowners pay for insurance.
Beyond the financial gains property and homeowners would see with a lower ISO rating, Clayton Prebel, president of the property owner’s association of the Wildcat Community, said the ability to have a station on the mountain capable of responding “to emergencies and perhaps save a life, is very important and something we’ve been trying to do for a long time.”
Dawson County Emergency Services has implemented a number of measures, including the construction of a training burn room and cross training personnel, to increase the ISO evaluation.
The new station on Burnt Mountain would bring most of Dawson County, aside from an area between Hwy. 183 and Sweetwater Juno Road, to a level five/six ISO rating, said Dawson County Manager Kevin Tanner.
“We’ve been in conversations with members of the Wildcat communities, and they too have concerns about their fire protection, both from an insurance and a safety standpoint,” Tanner said.
Those concerns led to a collaboration between Dawson and Pickens counties to find a way to put a fire station on the mountain. After months of meetings, the initiative has gained momentum.
Pickens County plans to supply the land and construct the $40,000 two-bay fire station, while Dawson County would provide two surplus fire trucks and training for the all-volunteer station, Tanner said.
Additionally, members of the Wildcat Community are in the process of raising $30,000 to address the financial needs of setting up and running the station beyond what Dawson and Pickens counties are able to provide.
“We’re full steam ahead,” said Prebel. “We have people who are ready to volunteer, and we’re in the process of recruiting more able-bodied men and women who want to stand up to the challenge of volunteering as a fire fighter.”
The volunteers would not be left to act on their own. “If we have an incident there, they’ll be the first response units and then Station 4 or Station 7 will also respond,” Tanner said. “And then those volunteers and trucks would also be available to respond to other calls in the county. We’re excited about the possibility.”
While the station, considered by the state as a Dawson County fire station, would serve residents in both Dawson and Pickens counties, its leadership would fall under Dawson County Emergency Services.
“Obviously, this is a cooperative effort between Dawson County Emergency Services and Pickens County Fire Department,” Thurmond said. “We’ll work together in any kind of fire situation up there. The station will enhance the automatic aid agreement we already have and is another opportunity for the two counties to better serve and protect the citizens of this county.”
“We’re just excited and very appreciative to both counties’ leaders to make this happen,” Prebel said.
E-mail Michele Hester at firstname.lastname@example.org.