Marianna- Mayor George Gay was the the first to tell us his town was pretty small. "The town of Alford is one square mile," he said with a smile. But, his smile quickly faded when he explained the results of their most recent ISO ratings- deeming Alford's volunteer fire department's primary coverage area 75 square miles.
"We have a mutual aid agreement [with Jackson County]. We will aid [the county] in fire protection outside of our city. In return, they give us $12500 a year. The issue is, in our our evaluation, we noticed it's showing us in our contract as responsible- equally responsible- for the 75 square miles."
Gay said he was worried the town couldn't live up to the responsibility.
"What if our volunteers are out that day," Gay asked. "What if they're at work? What if they're unable to come? Where does that put liability on the town? Not only that, in response to say 150 calls a year, only three or four is inside the city. So, they're county responsibility fires for that $12500- it don't cover fuel and insurance. So, it's a labor of love by all means."
County officials say they were aware of the concerns in Alford, as well as other towns.
"We're presently at the end of a study we've had conducted looking at station placement, ISO's, county wide funding possibility" Jackson County Administrator, Ted Lakey said.
He told us the fire study was expected to be presented to the board in October.