As neighbors used water hoses in an attempt to extinguish a house fire on Lakeview Drive, the South Fulton Fire Department was unable to respond to the call for assistance because the homeowner had not paid the seventy five dollar annual fire fee.
According to Fire Chief Tommy Smith, “If a county resident has not paid their fire subscription dues, then the department cannot respond.” Smith added that the South Fulton City Commission started this in 1990, and other departments including Martin and Union City have similar types of rural fire subscriptions.
Smith said that 911 dispatch notified them of the fire, and it was determined that the homeowner had not paid the required fee. The dispatch center then contacted the Martin, Union City, and Fulton Fire Departments to see if they would be able to respond, which none could since the fee had not been paid. The Fulton Fire Department only responds to county fires when a mutual aid request is received from another department.
Chief Smith said, “We could see the smoke from the station, and we were not able to respond until another call was received stating that other homes were involved.” At that time Smith notified 911 to page out the call under the assumption that one of the other residences had paid the fee. Upon arrival it was determined that no other structures were involved.
Smith estimates that it was approximately 5-10 minutes from the time the first call was received until they were able to respond. When they did respond, Smith requested the assistance of the Fulton, Martin, and Union City Fire Departments, which responded upon his request.
The structure was a total loss, and the department was on the scene for approximately four hours. Smith stressed the importance for county residents desiring fire protection to pay the subscription fee so they are able to respond.