County reinstates fire post

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After approving the reinstatement of a fire marshal’s position in December, the Person County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a job description and funding for the position Monday.

The position’s general statement of duties reads: “Performs technical and public safety work in providing fire prevention, investigations of suspicious fires, enforcement of local and state fire ordinances and codes, serving as a liaison with volunteer fire departments, federal, state, and county agencies in promoting overall fire prevention efforts within the county.”

Based on previous discussions, the fire marshal was slated to undertake the fire investigations countywide alone, but County Manager Heidi York said that it would be best for the marshal to work along with the city of Roxboro’s fire investigations that the county currently contracts with for $500 per month.

York said the city’s fire investigative team is made up of six full-time investigators and one part-time investigator who spend many hours and weekends investigating fires, preparing reports, meeting with state officials and testifying in court. She recommended that the county keep the existing contract in place.

If the position were filled Feb. 1, York said the salary and benefits of the position for the rest of the current fiscal year would be $28,262 plus an additional $69,500 in startup costs totaling $97,762.

The position would require personal protective gear, a vehicle, a uniform, office-related items, investigation equipment and a self-contained breathing apparatus.

A full fiscal year of salary for the position would be $67,828, according to York.

The total startup and annual operating expenses would be $185,116.

At a meeting Dec. 2, Chairman Ray Jeffers said that he had checked with the finance department who told him that the county’s contingency funds could cover the position.

York confirmed that the contingency funds could cover the position for the rest of the current fiscal year, but it would take a large chunk of the available funds.

Jeffers suggested using leftover funds from the fire tax and wondered how much was left from funds cut from the Woodsdale Volunteer Fire Department.

York expressed hesitation at spending any money that was currently marked for any of the VFDs.

“If we use that and then need it, we would need to come back to the board for another funding source to get us through any VFD transitions, but that is a viable pot that you could consider for this,” York said.

Assistant County Manager Laura Jensen checked on the available funds and reported that $30,000 was cut from the Woodsdale VFD and left unallocated. Jensen also said that $96,348 is the remainder of the funds allocated to Woodsdale that is currently being issued on an as-needed basis to the department.

Emergency Services Director Doug Young warned against using all of the money that had been allocated to Woodsdale.

“I just want to bring your attention to that $96,000,” Young said. “That would be minus the expenditures that we’re taking there day to day currently.”

Young said that around Dec. 15, somewhere between $20-25,000 of those funds had been spent.

Jeffers made a motion to fund the position using the $30,000 leftover from the fire tax with the remainder coming from the county’s contingency funds.

The motion passed unopposed.

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