Harlem city leaders have decided to hold out on signing a new fire service contract with Columbia County until they meet with county leaders this week to hash out a final concern.
A Columbia County-owned fire station on Clary Cut Road was set to go into operation Saturday. Harlem officials are trying to renegotiate a new contract with more favorable terms.
Photo by Donnie Fetter
Harlem Mayor Scott Dean said the contract contains a clause making the city responsible for any injuries incurred at a new fire station on Clary Cut Road.
"The county built and owns that station," Dean said at a called meeting Dec. 23.
"We'll essentially be running it for them under the terms of the contract; however, I don't think that means we should be held liable for anything that could happen at the station since it's owned by the county."
Columbia County Emergency Services Director Pam Tucker said the clause is routine and designed to protect the county.
"Under the contract, when they are operating the fire station, they would be responsible for things like somebody tripping on a mop or a wet floor or anything that happened there at the station, just as they would at their station now," she said.
Tucker said she has already informed Doug Batchelor, the county's attorney.
She plans to meet with Harlem officials this week.
"I think they just want to get some more clarification," she said. "We want to make sure everybody feels good and comfortable and understands everything."
In the meantime, the county has agreed to extend Harlem's interim fire service contract through the end of January.
Harlem Public Safety will continue to provide fire service on a per-call basis in its district from their city station.
If the new contract is signed, Harlem Public Safety will take over the operation of the Clary Cut Road station in February, Tucker said.
The Clary Cut Road fire station is one of four new fire stations that was built by the county using 1-cent sales tax money.
Each county fire department will receive control of a station.
All of the other county fire departments - Grovetown Department of Public Safety, North Columbia Fire and Rescue and the Martinez Fire Department - have signed the new fire contract.
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