Why fire departments in Pickens County need Amendment 649 changed

PICKENS COUNTY, Ala. (WCBI) – Pickens County voters head to the polls on November 8.

County leaders want them to get behind an amendment on the ballot.

Amendment 649 was created in 1997 to allow tax money to go towards fire equipment for Volunteer Fire Departments in Pickens County.

Now, many including Circuit Clerk Keith “Booty” Cox feel that the amendment is in need of an update.

“The language in that amendment is very restrictive. It restricted departments to only use that money for firefighter equipment or activities,” said Cox.

In his 30 years of service to the Volunteer Fire Department, Cox has seen many changes in the types of calls they receive.

With the closing of the hospital, the majority of the department’s calls are medically related.

This amendment will help ensure they have the proper medical supplies to go on these calls.

There is also a shortage of ambulances in the county.

That means firefighters are often the first on the scene of a medical emergency.

“As time has evolved the nature of the calls has changed, so now the fire departments in Pickens county most of their calls are medical calls.
So there is a local amendment on the ballot November 8 that would change the language of that amendment that would allow the purchase of medical supplies,” said Cox.

Departments are in need of blood pressure cuffs, backboards, and bandages.

Cox said these supplies are critical to their mission.

They can determine whether first responders are able to provide proper care.

“Most all of our departments are in a rural setting and like I said with the strain on the ambulance time, and you’re out there in the middle of nowhere and don’t have the proper equipment to work with then it is very frustrating for the responder. Not to mention, the potential survivability for the patient, ” said Cox.

He wants to make sure Pickens County voters know where to look for the measure.

“Should be the last amendment on the back of the ballot. It will be the local amendment. There will be several state amendments but this is the local amendment,” said Cox.

If the amendment passes, it will not raise or change tax rates.

It only allows a change in what the money that’s raised can be spent on.

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