Blue Ridge, Ga. – “I would like to say at this time, thanks to the public for the donations, and the taxpayers here in the county that are taking care of us,” Fannin County Fire Chief Larry Thomas spoke to the Board of Commissioners (BOC) on Tuesday about the purchase of new equipment for the department.
The Fannin County Fire Department will see an upgrade to their life-saving hydraulic extraction tools, better known as the Jaws of Life.
Thomas informed the BOC that volunteer firefighters had voted late in 2018 to use money from their donation account to purchase the new equipment: “The volunteers, in one of our volunteer meetings, voted to go ahead and start upgrading the Jaws of Life, the extrication tools that we carry on some of our vehicles.”
After researching pricing, the fire department chose to go with Hurst to provide this new equipment. Hurst now provides a battery operated version of this tool that can be operated by a single person.
This upgrade will save time for local rescuers who are often put in situations where every minute matters.
“Before, in the beginning, way back, it took two people to use a set of jaws,” Thomas said explaining the importance of the equipment upgrade.
The total price for three new sets of Jaws of Life would come to approximately $60,000. Thomas explained that his department had already put $17,000 towards this total with the intention of applying another $7,300 in the near future.
Although the fire department has enough funds available in the donation account, Thomas stated that they would like to finance the remaining amount of approximately $35,000 as to not deplete all monies currently in the donation account.
In order finance this remaining balance, Fannin County would need to “cosign” for the loan, as most banks cannot loan to volunteer groups.
Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson asked for clarification on the terms of the loan being sought, to which Thomas replied that they would be seeking a three year repayment period.
Although the loan terms would be set for three years, Thomas stated, “We’re hoping to pay it off next year” and pointed to the history the department has with paying off any loan debt before the loan fully matures.
“I think it’s a great thing really,” Fannin County Chairman Stan Helton expressed his opinion before the vote. “I appreciate the volunteers and the money they have brought in to pay for equipment that is going to serve the public.”
The three commissioners voted in favor of signing off on a loan for the fire department, and bringing this life saving upgrade to the county.
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