As the smear campaign against Canton's Fire Department continues to unravel and the truth continues to come out, I want to share some additional information with you.
Please take a few minutes to watch Fire Chief Dean Floyd's speech to the Canton City Council. You can find it at www.canton-georgia.com. Click "Legislation Search," then the blue "Video" hyperlink from the Aug. 16 council meeting. His speech starts at about 44 minutes into the video. Former council member Pat Tanner also made an excellent speech just before Dean's, as did Eddie Blackwell just before Pat's. It is well worth your time to view all three.
For several months, I have watched Chief Floyd remain silent as "misinformation" has been deliberately spread about Canton's fire department. Dean Floyd is a dedicated professional who would have continued to remain silent had I not encouraged him to go public with the truth. When I received Cherokee County Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens' letter on Aug. 13, I was flabbergasted. You can read it at the bottom of this blog post.
Let me be crystal clear: Buzz Ahrens is a fine man and an honest man. He has a true servant's heart and would NEVER deliberately spread false information. Cherokee County is very fortunate to have him as commission chairman. The simple fact is that he was given incorrect information about Canton's Fire Department.
Chief Floyd going public with the truth was my idea. Last Thursday, the day of our council meeting, I asked City Manager Scott Wood for permission to ask Dean to speak to the council. After some coaxing on my part, Scott reluctantly gave me permission to approach Dean with the idea to address Buzz's letter before council. Dean enthusiastically agreed to do it under one condition: that there would be no negative talk about the Cherokee County Fire Department. And there wasn't.
Professional firefighters share a deep and unwavering respect for each other that transcends politics and all other distractions. To me, it is just amazing that these men and women are willing to leave the comfort and safety of a perfectly good fire truck to run into a burning house to save the lives and property of total strangers. They don't do politics.
Next week, most likely Friday morning, I will be hosting a coffee gathering at City Hall that will be open to all Canton residents. Several representatives from our fire department will be present. There will be an informal Q&A session about our fire department. We will not be discussing the fire district, exemptions or other issues.
Only our fire department.
|Open Letter to City Council members
Honorable City of Canton Member
Mr. Bill Bryan:
Based on events of late, I feel compelled to communicate with each
member of the Canton City Council concerning fire services related to
our Cherokee County Fire/ EMS and the City of Canton. I have one goal,
and only one, which is to provide a certain perspective regarding the
consideration of a unified Fire/EMS command organization. This is in
no way a lobbying or posturing motive.
Please also note that this is not coming as a vote of the BOC, rather
it is coming from me, as the Chairman.
1. THE singlular ‘issue’ is best possible Fire / EMS Services for the
residents of City of Canton - protecting their lives and their
2. from my perspective, another ‘issue’ is apparent lack of specific,
service-related information in hands of City Council members. It may
be about cost, but it is mostly about levels of training, hours of
training per firefighter, condition of equipment, maintenance, number
of paramedics, turn out / response times, back up cover for large
incidents, etc. I spent almost an hour on the phone recently with
Councilman Bryan ... i guarantee he learned a lot - but it should not
have come from me.
For example, he learned that from practically overnight, we could put
three ladder COMPANIES on three corners of the city... these are full
3. another ‘issue’ is how to best allocate capital funds to provide
improved service to City of Canton residents - at the lowest possible
cost burden to them.
The county has SPLOST funds for two fire stations that need to be
replaced in short term…one on 140 toward Waleska and the other on 140
near Harmony on the Lakes. I would seem logical and cost-effective for
the north station to be close to Great Sky/Laurel Canyon and for the
other one to be at intersection of the new connector between hwy 20
and hwy 140. We would also have an ambulance stationed near Great Sky
I read that you estimate a new station at $750 K. i would suggest you
take a closer look at that estimate. you are likely to find it will be
closer to $ one million, excluding land.
4. a significant ‘issue’ is improved level of services to all - via
more training for more personnel, unified command structure,
contingency planning, improved use of existing equipment [ e.g. two
ladder trucks in Canton, but lack of ladder 'company'], County
qualified paramedics on all calls...
footnote: Canterbury Apt. fire demonstrated important gaps in training,
ladder equipment readiness, etc. I expect that the City Manager and/or
Chief Floyd has provided a copy of the report prepared by Chief
Prather. if not, let me know. i do not have electronic version or i
would have attached.
The Christmas Eve fire in downtown also showed weaknesses in training
5. another ‘issue’ is lack of any agreement - mutual or automatic aid
- between City of Canton and Cherokee County. this is indeed an issue.
“mutual aid” is an agreement between two [or more] fire units of
nearly equal size and ability. they wait to be called out rather than
automatically dispatched. conversely, “automatic aid” is ' closest
responder' - like we have seen with Canton. it includes specific
details, training levels, equipment standards, and in some cases -
when excessive to one side - financial reimbursements via some
a quick google will bring up several examples.
There are County fire/ems units [ in other jurisdictions ! ] who will
not cross municipal boundaries without such an agreement. this is an
issue and has important financial, training, readiness, and backup
A very recent auto accident at 575/hwy 20 basically 'shut down' canton
because your 'on duty' apparatus/personnel responded. so who covered
the rest of Canton ?? ... we did. no agreement, but we did
6. the ‘issue’ definitely is not ISO rating. Some insurance companies
do not use ISO ratings. The issue is long term safety and assurances.
for many a change of one level may mean $10-20 in homeowners policy
cost. i googled the Georgia requirements and it only says that ISO
should be 'considered'.
7. the ‘issue’ is not senior exemption, per se. The County proposes to
establish a dollar-based cost [ essentially using the county fire
district millage and your tax digest.] The County will bill the City.
The City will collect from their residents on whatever base they
chose, which could include grandfathering current exemptions. this has
been discussed briefly by some commissioners, but has not been
formally adopted, pending direction from the City of Canton
8. Here is a copy/paste from a blog which is part of a statement from
a council member: i have added my comments below, as numbered. It may
or may not reflect views of all/most council members, but i will use
for purposes of providing additional perspective.
"With a "takeover" (not merge, not consolidate), the  same needs
would be there,  the same costs would be there and  the same
issues would be there. The difference is that your local elected city
politicians would not have to deal with it anymore. One less headache
for Canton politicians, bigger problems for Canton residents."
 agree ... the same needs are there and they will increment
geometrically based on demographics, Canton marketplace, Northside
Hospital. no secret here... demand will increase many fold in 10 years
 basically disagree ... canton has not yet decided millage rate
changes. my bet is a roll up to revenue neutral, but that has not
happened. If it does and If a 1.25 fire district tax is added, the
equivlent Canton fire rate will be almost one mill greater than the
County's at 3.394. so cost is not the same to taxpaying residents.
County has SPLOST capital projects indentified and funding earmarked
related to at least two new stations near where Canton needs them.
 basically disagree….many, if not most, of the issues would be
different, not the same. How much more training could be achieved, how
many paramedics could be added to Canton call, unified command
structure more efficient and provides better cover when there is a
major incident, more professional/ career opportunities. The
respective Chiefs have already developed a hypotheical organization
Given the context of messaging from the very first line of this
letter, i ask why and how would this ' create bigger problems for
Canton Residents ' ?