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Posted: December 26, 2008 12:00 a.m.

County takes over Oxford Fire Department

Newton County Fire Services has assumed the responsibility of providing fire services to the city of Oxford after the city decided to close its own volunteer fire department.

The Oxford City Council voted to disband the volunteer fire department at a called meeting last week.

Newton Fire Chief Mike Satterfield said he has been in discussions for some time with Oxford on assuming responsibility over the city’s fire services.

"They approached us and asked us if we could provide that service," Satterfield said.

In exchange for the county taking over fire service responsibility in Oxford, the city has agreed to give to NCFS all of its fire equipment including its two fire engines (one was purchased in 1985 and the other in 1993). The county will not take over the old volunteer fire department building.

"In exchange for that, we will provide service for a period of time," said Satterfield.

The intergovernmental fire services agreement between Oxford and Newton County is waiting for confirmation from the Newton County Board of Commissioners pending approval of the details by the county’s Finance Department. The agreement is similar to ones already in existence with the towns of Porterdale, Newborn and Mansfield.

After two and a half years, Oxford will begin paying the county for its fire services, either through a fire district tax or through the city’s millage rate.

Final approval of the agreement is expected in January.

"Our whole intention is to be fair and equitable to everyone," Satterfield said. "We just need to make sure that the numbers make sense and they’re fair."

In the mean time NCFS has already assumed responsibility over the city of Oxford.

"We were already [providing fire services] in cooperation with the volunteer department," Satterfield said. "As of Thursday, we took sole responsibility."

Satterfield said he at some point hopes to locate a new fires station in the Oxford area. Currently the two closest fire stations are a station on Mount Zion Road about 3.2 miles from the city and a station on Ga. Highway 81, approximately 2.5 miles from the city.

Newton County Fire Services will not have to add any new staff in order to serve Oxford said Satterfield.

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