Fire

A statewide “combat challenge” for firefighters could play out in downtown Rome if officials can get the details worked out over the next year or so.

The competitive games were a community staple on Broad Street in the 1800s, according to Division Chief Brad Roberson of the Rome-Floyd Fire Department. Teams now vie for top ranking in contests such as bucket brigade, ladder-climbing, a pumper pull and a rescue race.

Fire Chief Troy Brock said the event is part of a week-long annual conference of the Georgia State Firefighters and Georgia Fire Chiefs associations, which have picked Rome for their 2020 site. It will be the first time they’ve come since 1984.

“There will be around 300, but they’re talking about adding the Southeastern Association of Fire Chiefs and that would bring a lot more,” Brock told members of the Fire Overview Committee.

Organizers made a preliminary trip to Rome last week to scout out sites for activities —  which also include classes, training events, equipment exhibits and an awards ceremony. A public block party also could be part of the mix.

Brock said Tourism Director Lisa Smith is planning another tour for the officials after the first of the year. Among the other potential locations are Berry College, the airport and State Mutual Stadium, but Brock’s preferred choice for the games is downtown.

“We need water hook-ups and (strong) pavement, but having it on Broad — that’d be pretty awesome,” he said. “There’s a lot to be done. We’re just getting started now.”

Rome and Floyd County commissioners on the overview committee voiced strong support for a showcase initiative, throwing out suggestions such as involving the local schools.

“And you’d better win the competition,” County Commissioner Scotty Hancock said with a laugh.

Brock said the department hasn’t fielded a team for about 20 years but he would be putting one together for the upcoming challenge.

Also during Thursday’s committee meeting, Rome Finance Director Sherri Shore presented the proposed budget for 2019. The city and county commissions, which split the cost equally, will each need to add another $145,000 to their contributions.

“We knew this was coming,” Shore said, noting that payments would start for the two fire trucks on order.

One of the quints — a combination pumper and ladder truck — is funded through the department’s capital budget. The other is funded through the 2017 special purpose, local option sales tax. Revenue won’t start coming in until April, but Brock got permission to order both trucks earlier this year.

“We got a discount for two,” he said. “We also tried to get ahead of the increase in metal, ahead of the tariffs.”

Roberson said the custom-designed trucks take about a year to build. They’ll visit the manufacturer, Sutphen, in Ohio, early next year to for a pre-build conference where they’ll fine-tune the specifications.

Firefighter merit-raises, from 0 to 4 percent, also are included in the department’s 2019 budget.