Berthelot to appoint fire chief by Feb. 10

The appointment is significant because it marks the first time fire protection for the area will be under a single fire chief and a consolidated parish fire department. The Parish Council approved the final ordinance Thursday establishing a consolidated fire department under one chief.

“All the local Fire Departments agreed that we ought to have one fire department,” Berthelot said. “We’ll keep our identity of six different fire districts for rating purposes, but going forward we’ll do whatever we need to.”

Berthelot said he expected all fire insurance ratings to remain in place for the time being.

There were nine applicants for the job, Berthelot said, four of whom were local.

“In reviewing the applications, we felt the four locals were equally as good as the other five,” Berthelot said. “We only interviewed the local ones.”

Fire department funding will be put into one pool but the parish fire department will have the authority to allocate money or equipment to an area that may demonstrate a greater need, Berthelot said.

In another matter, the council created a six-person committee to review parishwide subdivision property standards. West Baton Rouge real estate developer Larry Johnson asked the council to postpone approval of an ordinance because no large subdivisions had been created in West Baton Rouge for some time and he thought it would be best for the council to look at all subdivision requirements at the same time for possible revision.