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STEELE CREEK NEWS

Residents Association Board Supports Formation of a Mecklenburg County Fire Commission

(January 30, 2020) In 2012, Mecklenburg County created the Charlotte Fire Protection Service District, which covers the unincorporated areas within the Charlotte Extraterritorial Jurisdiction (ETJ) and is served primarily by six volunteer fire departments and the City of Charlotte Fire Department. All property owners within the Fire Protection Service District pay a tax to the district, and the county allocates the revenue generated among the various departments.

The six departments are Carolina, Cooks, Long Creek, Robinson, Steele Creek (with two stations), and West Mecklenburg. The county contracts with the Charlotte Fire Department to provide fire protection service in the Charlotte Rural area.

During the Public Appearance portion of the January 22 meeting of the Mecklenburg County Board of County Commissioners, Karl Froelich, President of the Steele Creek Residents Association, gave the following presentation:

Good evening Chairman Dunlap, Commissioners, and County Manager Diorio,

Thank you to Commissioners Leake and Rodriguez-McDowell who represent the Steele Creek area as well as all Commissioners for your service to our county.

I am Karl Froelich and President of the Steele Creek Residents Association that has been representing city and county residents of Steele Creek for almost 40 years.

The topic tonight is Volunteer Fire Department service to county residents.

First, I want to thank these two volunteer firefighters from the Steele Creek VFD that respond to calls not knowing whether it is a fire, a car wreck, a medical emergency or a possible drowning.

As Charlotte has grown, rural areas are becoming more urbanized and congested volunteer fire departments now respond to more calls and more complicated situations.

I want to recognize the leadership of the BOCC and County management for passing a resolution in 2012 to establish a Fire Protection Service District for unincorporated areas to provide the additional funds from county residents needed for fire protection.

Then mandating 24 / 7 coverage of firefighters at each station to respond more quickly, more safely, and with more certainty. County residents support these decisions.

Last week, Commissioners Vilma Leake and Susan Rodriguez-McDowell suggested that the voices of county residents be heard on their fire protection needs and residents agree.

I would like to make you aware of what Wake County has been doing with their FPSD to make certain that the needs of all parties, including residents, are heard and addressed.

In 1999, Wake County created a Fire Protection and Service District with a Wake County Fire Commission to oversee that district, as shown on handout. This Fire Commission brings together all stakeholders: volunteer fire chiefs, the county fire marshal, municipal fire departments, a county Commissioner, Firefighters association, AND county residents, so that all parties have a voice and are represented. Commission meetings are held monthly and then the commission submits to BOCC each year a comprehensive 7-year plan for fire stations, fire trucks, personnel, training, and outreach that all parties agree to. The Wake County Fire Commission seems to work well for fire protection for county residents.

Therefore, the SCRA Board of nine directors recommends establishing a Mecklenburg County Fire Commission using the successful Wake County model with input from everyone affected, including residents.

Since residents pay directly for this service, we feel it is time that county residents become members of a Mecklenburg County Fire Commission for discussion and decisions for their personal fire protection and emergency response

Thank you for your time and leadership.

Karl Froelich:

See Wake County Fire Commission.

County Commissioners Vilma Leake and Susan Rodriguez-McDowell will be holding a Town Hall meeting on the volunteer fire departments on March 10 from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM in Room 267 in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center. More details will be announced soon.

For a more detailed map showing fire districts and stations countywide, click on the map above or here: Mecklenburg County VFD Boundaries.

To comment on this story, please click below to visit the Steele Creek Residents Association Facebook page.

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