The closure of Richmond Fire Department station No. 5 in July was the start of a collaborative process between the Richmond and county fire departments, according to officials of the two governments.
The city fire station on Duncannon Lane was closed because operating a distant station with only three firefighters had become a management problem, City Manager Jimmy Howard said.
The county had agreed to help provide coverage in the Duncannon Lane area, Howard said at the time, to ensure residents, businesses and industries in the area had fire protection.
In return, the Richmond will offer protection to areas of the county near the city.
The city commission acted Aug. 14 to formalize its part of the arrangement by adopting a new mutual aid agreement with the county.
Under terms of the agreement, both fire departments will receive the same alerts at the same time, according to Richmond Fire Chief Buzzy Campbell.
“The city of Richmond and Madison County have for a number of years had an agreement for mutual fire protection to protect life and property from fire,” the agreement reads.
“On the receipt of a 911 phone call to the Madison County Dispatch Center, firefighting equipment and personnel of the Madison County Fire Department will be automatically dispatched to any point within the area for which the Richmond Fire Department normally provides fire protection as designated by the agreed upon locations,” it reads.
Former city jurisdictions now covered by the county include most residences and businesses in the Duncannon Lane area.
Former county jurisdictions the city now will respond to include five miles out Lancaster Road, parts of Tates Creek Road, Lexington Road, Goggins Lane, Barnes Mill, Jacks Creek and parts of Lexington Road to Colonel Road.
“Essentially, what we’re doing is using the county station No. 2 as our station No. 5,” Campbell said.
Another reason for the new mutual aid agreement is to help keep homeowner’s insurance rates from rising, he said.
“If there is not a fire station within five miles of a house, you get an ISO (Insurance Services Office rating) of 10, which means no fire protection,” Campbell said. “With this agreement, it helps homeowners maintain their ISO rating of 3.”
A home’s ISO rating, a 1 being the best and 10 indicating no coverage, determines the amount a homeowner pays for fire insurance.
“The more protection you have, the lower your homeowner’s insurance will be,” Campbell said.
The mutual aid agreement breaks down jurisdiction barriers and is more about the safety of the entire community, according to Madison County Fire Chief Jim Cox.
“We’re all going to be responding together instead of the city just going to city fires and the county going to county fires,” Cox said.
The 911 dispatch will signal both departments at the same time, he said. “It’s just whoever shows up first.”
The two government left details of the agreement up to the two fire chiefs, Cox said.
“This just keeps everything equal,” he said. “It’s not like we’re doing everything for the city and they’re not doing anything for us.”
Ronica Shannon can be reached at rshannon@
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