PICKENS – After six months of debate, the City of Pickens has decided to retain its own fire department but will be without the services of longtime fire chief, David Porter.
With Chief Porter in attendance, Mayor David Owens read his letter of resignation aloud at a city council meeting.
Porter was quoted saying that in light of new directions taken by the city, he felt that he had done all he could and that it was time for someone else to lead.
Porter’s resignation will take effect on April 30, 2013 just a few days shy of his 35th anniversary with the Pickens Fire Department.
The mayor thanked Porter for his services by saying that he had done a great job.
“We wish Chief Porter well in his retirement,” said City Administrator Katherine Brackett. “He had a long and successful career with the City of Pickens and it was a noble thing that he did.”
The city received notification last summer that county fire contracts would not be renewed effective July 1, 2014.
“The city was put into a position where we had been notified that we were losing $500,000 in fire contracts with the county,” Brackett said. “In an effort to fund our own fire department, we passed an ordinance establishing fire fees that are the same as Pickens County and we will be eliminating one position.”
The city council expressed concern about maintaining its own fire protection.
“The option of giving up our own fire department and becoming part of the rural fire district was not desirable to the council because they would be giving up their control to the county council and to a board of which we would have no say,” Brackett said. “It is important that we keep our own fire department so that we can control fire protection inside the city limits.”
The city will charge an annual fire fee of $75 for residents and a commercial fire fee based on square footage ranging from $75 to approximately $2,000.
“The council was faced with the decision of giving up our fire department to the Pickens County rural fire district or keep it,” Brackett said. “Either way, citizens and business owners were going to have to pay a fire fee. Council determined that it was best to keep control of the fire department and keep a staffed and manned station so that we have the best response time available for everyone inside the City of Pickens.”