Mayor calls for quick action on merging WBR’s 6 fire subdistricts

Brusly Mayor Joey Normand told the West Baton Rouge Parish Council on Thursday that the consolidation of the parish’s six fire subdistricts into one will be a challenging process but the council needs to be united behind the future plan they devise.

“Just because we have a law in place and three municipalities that passed unanimous resolutions that say we want to make one fire district doesn’t mean that it’s done,” Normand said. “As the basis of this new fire district is formed, you will be under pressure from some people who are interested in protecting their own turf. My advice is to do it sooner rather than later.”

Normand said he led the lobbying effort during the last Louisiana legislative session to change the way tax revenue designated for fire protection is distributed in West Baton Rouge Parish. The money will now go to a single, parishwide district instead of six subdistricts.

The council has until July 1 to implement the new system

“This is going to be a good thing for the parish overall,” Normand said. “We have a good team on the ground right now. Let’s just change the structure of how it’s done, move on and build on that. ”

Parish Council President Riley “Peewee” Berthelot assured the council that local fire ratings will neither go down nor fire insurance rates become more expensive.

“We are going to meet with the council members, people who make the ratings, the civil service, the fire chiefs,” Berthelot said. “But we don’t want to move so quickly that we make mistakes.”

Berthelot said he would also solicit Parish Council Chairman Gary Spillman’s advice. Spillman retired from the Baton Rouge Fire Department with 30 years’ experience.

Other business coming before the council included:

FENCE PROJECT: The council approved a fence project that would have encroached on the property line setback for structures at a Rue Riviere resident’s home.

REZONING: The council agreed to consider two proposed rezoning ordinances, one for Marrionneaux subdivision and the other for a 17-acre site on Red Hat Road. Both locations are in Port Allen.