County mayor asks volunteer fire chief to postpone subscription plan

Terry Frank

Terry Frank

Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank has asked the Andersonville Volunteer Fire Department to postpone its controversial proposal to switch to a subscription-based plan.

The AVFD currently relies on donations, but Fire Chief Jeff Bagwell has proposed switching to a membership-based department on Jan. 1. Residents would pay a tax-deductible fee of 0.08 cents per square foot. The fire department would still respond to all fires, but non-members would be billed for service, Bagwell said in an Oct. 22 letter and list of frequently asked questions.

The first hour of a response to a structure fire could cost $1,900, Bagwell said.

“Fires could result in several thousands of dollars,” he said.

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Andersonville Fire Department to become subscription-based

The Andersonville Volunteer Fire Department says it will switch to a subscription-based operation beginning Jan. 1 due to a lack of funds, according to WYSH Radio in Clinton.

Fire Chief Jeff Bagwell says that a financial analysis of the department showed that if it did not change its operating plan, it would have to close down within three years, the radio station said.

The AVFD serves about 9,000 residents in a 68-square-mile area that also includes almost 60 businesses, four schools, several marinas, and an industrial park, WYSH said.

Memberships will be voluntary, and the subscription cost will be based upon the size of the home or business at a rate of eight cents per square foot. Officials estimate that the annual subscriptions will range from $150 to $200 but will be tax-deductible.

Currently, a very small percentage of homes and an even smaller percentage of businesses contribute to the department, WYSH said. After March 1, 2013, the department will begin charging non-subscribers for responding to the scene of a fire or an emergency medical call.

WYSH said Bagwell is scheduled to be a guest on the radio station’s “Ask Your Neighbor” show in a couple of weeks, and they plan to discuss the issue with him.

Andersonville is an unincorporated community in northeast Anderson County.

This story brought to you through an agreement between Oak Ridge Today and WYSH. See more local news headlines on the WYSH website at http://www.wyshradio.com/local_news.html.