Fire/EMS departments receive funds

Published 9:00 am Monday, October 28, 2013

JACKSON – The commitment to assist those who volunteer to help others is duly noted by Northampton County local government.

At a recent meeting, the county’s Board of Commissioners voted without objection to continue their financial assistance to nine volunteer fire departments within the county as well as Eastside EMS.

Following a presentation from Assistant County Manager Kimberly Turner, the board approved annual contracts that will award $850 each to the Garysburg, Gaston, Jackson, Lasker, Roanoke Wildwood, Seaboard and Woodland fire departments. The fire departments in Conway and Severn will each receive $3,850 in county funds. Eastside EMS will receive $3,500.

“I note here that Conway Fire Department, Severn Fire Department and Eastside EMS have figures above the others. Can you please explain why,” inquired Commission Chairman Robert Carter.

“Conway and Severn do not have fire service (tax) districts, that’s why their amounts are higher,” Turner explained. “The others have fire service districts The funds to Eastside EMS represent the normal contribution from the county.”

Commissioner Joe Barrett, a longtime member of the Conway VFD, said whatever money the county contributes to his and the other fire departments in Northampton is spent wisely.

“It costs a lot to operate a fire department,” he said.

Barrett made the motion to approve the funds, which was approved by a 5-0 vote.

During the recently completed fiscal year (July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013), the Gaston firemen led the county in the number of calls answered (247) for assistance. In descending order were Garysburg (153), Woodland (95), Rich Square (91), Conway (84), Seaboard (80), Jackson (75), Lasker (44), Roanoke Wildwood (41), and Severn (31),

Rich Square VFD did not submit an application for county funds or missed the deadline to turn in that document.

“A memorandum, along with the annual contracts and applications, were sent to each fire department and EMS squad on Aug. 16 explaining the process and requesting the contracts and applications be returned to me by Sept. 16,” Turner told the commissioners. “The reason for the deadline was to comply with the new contract approval process in order to present them to the commissioners in a timely manner.”

Turner continued, “If the commissioners find that the fire departments’ and EMS squad’s performance are in good standing, then they shall be eligible for contributions from the county.”

She pointed to a resolution adopted by the Northampton County Board of Commissioners on March 17, 1980 that sets out the process for approval of the fire departments’ contracts and the applications of financial assistance from the EMS squads.

The county has set aside $14,500 for the fire departments and $14,000 for EMS squads in the FY 2013-14 budget.

The Conway-Severn Rescue Squad received their 2013-14 county allocation during FY 2012-13. There was no mention of applications of financial assistance received from either the Jackson or Gaston rescue squads.

During FY 2012-13, Gaston EMS topped the county in the number of calls received and responded (1,689 and 1,400 respectively). Eastside EMS received 1,284 calls and responded on 534 occasions. Conway/Severn EMS was dispatched to 771 calls, answering 536 times. Jackson EMS had 944 calls and rolled a unit on 90 occasions.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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