Polk approves new fire and rescue advisory committee (FRAC)

Published 10:00 pm Monday, March 13, 2017

Saluda Fire and Rescue (photo by Mark Schmerling)

COLUMBUS – The Polk County Board of Commissioners has officially approved the bylaws and established a new fire and rescue advisory committee (FRAC).

County commissioners met Monday, March 6 and unanimously approved the bylaws of the new committee, which will replace the six individual fire tax commissions for each county fire department.

The new committee will be made up of seven members, with three people appointed by the board of county commissioners, three people selected by the chief officers association and one member selected by the other six members of the FRAC. The Polk County fire marshal will also serve on the board in an ex-officio capacity and will be a non-voting member.

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The committee will be appointed this year but will not handle the submission of budget requests for each fire department until next year because the county is nearing budget preparations for fiscal year 2017-2018, which will begin July 1.

Once the FRAC is established, Polk’s six fire departments, Columbus, Green Creek, Mill Spring, Saluda, Sunny View and Tryon, and the Polk County Rescue Squad, will prepare their annual budgets and submit them to the FRAC, which will meet with each department to review the individual budgets.

The FRAC will be responsible for presenting the budgets of each fire department and the rescue squad to the board of commissioners.

“The mission of the Fire and Rescue Advisory Committee shall be to act as a liaison body between the individual fire and rescue departments and the county board of commissioners and advise the county board of commissioners on implementation of strategies for attaining and maintaining the best fire and rescue services feasible to the citizens of the county,” states the bylaws commissioners approved last week.

“The Polk County Board of Commissioners recognizes that each fire and rescue department is a private non-profit corporation and as such, is governed by a board of directors, as set forth by state and federal statues, therefore the fire and rescue advisory committee is empowered as advisory only.”

The county has already begun advertising for members of the new FRAC but as of last week had not received any applications.

To be eligible, the applicant must own real property or business personal property that is subject to the fire district tax and must be a full-time resident of Polk County for at least five years.

The purpose of the FRAC, as outlined in the bylaws:

– To review and make recommendations for fire and rescue service delivery funding and capital or lease purchase expenditures

– To advise the county on fire and rescue legislation, codes, municipal annexation, ordinances and related administration issues including but not limited to, fire protection water delivery systems, fire and rescue vehicle road access and minimum levels of volunteer/paid staffing

– To advise the county on matters relating to fire protection contracts with the individual fire and rescue departments

– To make recommendations on matters relating to fire district ratings, fire district boundaries, communications, insurance, fire district expansion and other matters affecting fire and rescue service delivery.