The Richmond City Commission voted unanimously on Tuesday to table a memorandum of agreement between the Madison County and Richmond fire departments.
The document was presented during a Tuesday morning workshop meeting outlining joint services to provide mutual aid between the county and city fire departments for basic medical support, hazardous material containment, special rescue events, extraction, water rescue, water recovery, confined spaces rescue and missing person investigations.
"...Mutual aid agreements ensure that citizens, regardless of their geographical locations, receive quality first response in times of need," it reads.
More specifically, the order states that on receipt of a 911 call to the county dispatch center, county or city equipment and personnel of the requested entity will be dispatched when available to any point within the area, of which either the city or county normally provides fire protection as designated by the boundaries.
Additionally, the terms of the agreement are listed as not mandatory, but that the party receiving the request of assistance inform the other if assistance cannot be rendered.
Long-time Commissioner Mike Brewer, asked if such an agreement already existed between the county and city.
Richmond Fire Chief Sam Kirby said a similar agreement between both parties was signed by the commission in 2012, and there had been a standing agreement since he had been with the department.
"The current one from 2012 that I found is still in effect," Kirby said. "It was just being updated for me and the county fire chief to sign as well just so that it is updated and corrected for today's date."
Kirby reported other than some additional legal jargon in the 2012 document, a lot of the information was similar and not many changes were made.
Brewer asked if in the original or updated order, the services requested (basic medical assistance, extraction, rescue, etc.) were included.
Kirby replied, stating those were not listed in the original that he had seen nor the recent document which was included in an email chain, but that both he and the county fire chief had discussed and were able to provide the services.
City Manager Rob Minerich then asked Kirby if the county continues to dwindle their fire services, will they be relying more on the services of the city, therefore, tightening Richmond services.
"… Is that going to put strain on our stations, and is it going to neglect the city?" he asked.
The situation to which the city manager is referring is the county's decision in February to "withdraw the ability to operate" county rescue squad services by not renewing their contract.
"I don't foresee them doing anything with their fire departments," Kirby replied. "I think that the Madison County Rescue Squad was an entirely different situation..."
Commissioner Jason Morgan then again asked the Richmond fire chief if he believed supplementing the county services would put a strain on city resources and put at risk their staff.
Again the chief replied that he did not believe the Richmond department would be risking anymore than the firefighters do when they come to work daily.
Brewer said he understood helping to assist on fire protection and back up, but that the county chose to get rid of the service and was now requesting more from the city.
"They had this and got rid of it," he said. "Why would they get rid of their rescue and then ask us to take that rescue," Brewer asked Minerich.
"That is my concern in the language change in this agreement, is it has added services that they no longer provide," Minerich said. "Which swift water rescue is one of those, they have done away with their rescue squad and that is my concern that when those incidents happen in the county, it sounds like we are going to be relied on to make that call, and is that going to hurt our services in the city limits?"
Morgan then objected the title of the document, claiming the order was not a mutual aid agreement, but providing of service.
"I am fine with providing a service, but let's call it what it is," Morgan said.
Minerich made one last statement before the order was tabled saying, "I don't think there will ever be a time that if the county has an incident and needs support that we wouldn't be there to support them. My concern is, as they continue to reduce services, and call on the city to provide the services to the county, are we hindering the services of the city? … I have a concern that as they reduce services that it will become a strain on our fire department."
• The commission approved a resolution to apply for a build grant in a regional partnership with Madison County for support in a project which would widen U.S. 52 in the amount of $100,000.
• A resignation was approved for Corey Barron of the Richmond Police Department.
• Two appointments to the Richmond Utility Board were made for four year terms to Robert Locker and Velmar Miller.
• Cameron Abney was approved for reappointment to the Architectural Review Board.
• Josh Barrett's resignation from the Tax Board was approved.
Reach Taylor Six at 624-6623 or follow her on Twitter @TaylorSixRR.