A southeast Georgia county will spend $1.9 million to buy three fire trucks and three water tankers, part of a strategy to increase fire protection and cut property insurance rates in rural areas.
The Statesboro Herald reports Bulloch County commissioners authorized the county manager to bypass bid requirements to buy the trucks.
The county plans to assign a fire engine and shuttle tanker apiece to three fire stations, staffing each station with one or two paid firefighters. Such a skeleton crew can get trucks rolling, cutting response time by meeting volunteers at a fire.
County employees are also trying to identify 40 additional “alternative water sources,” mostly ponds, to add to the current list of about 60 ponds designated for refilling tankers. The Insurance Services Office, which rates firefighting capability, allows the ponds to stand in for fire hydrants in rural areas. Better capabilities overall could lower insurance rates.
“It ups your game, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” said Bulloch County Manager Tom Couch.
The county is also seeking to upgrade other equipment. The county will keep some of its current fire trucks, but the fleet overall is in bad shape. Couch said the three newest fire engines are eight to 20 years old.
In 2020, the county increased property taxes in rural areas of the county distant from Statesboro to pay firefighter salaries. Couch said the county will mainly use sales tax money to buy the trucks.
Bulloch County has hired about eight full-time firefighters and is seeking a federal grant to hire more.
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