Fire Marshal activities include fire investigation, fire inspections, pre-fire planning, plans review, fire education, and coordination and improvement of the fire service.
There are 16 fire departments with approximately 500 personnel providing protection to the citizens of Stanly County. All are volunteer except the Albemarle department. Albemarle and Norwood are considered municipal departments. They are part of the respective municipal governments. All other departments are non-profit corporations under NC law. The departments are contracted to provide fire protection to districts established by the Board of County Commissioners. The other option available is to provide a County fire department, an option that is economically not practical.
Over the years, departments have found it almost impossible to continue to fund a fire department on fund drives and contributions. All but one non-municipal fire district is now funded primarily through a fire tax. State statutes allow a tax district to be formed by a vote of the resident property owners of the district or by the Commissioners setting up a service district. All but one of the tax districts was formed through a vote of the resident property owners. State statute allows a levy of up to $0.15 per $100 valuation. While the tax was approved by a vote for fire protection in a particular district, the Board of County Commissioners determines the tax rate to be levied and is responsible for the collection and distribution of the tax funds. This also means the Board retains at least some responsibility to assure these funds are used in an appropriate manner.
The County provides two respiratory air compressors to fill self contained breathing apparatus used by fire and rescue personnel. These compressors are not ordinary compressors. They must provide air without contaminants and suitable for safe breathing at pressures up to 5000 psi. One of the compressors is a stationary compressor housed at Albemarle Central Fire Station and is approximately 20 years old. The other is mounted on a step van type vehicle and was purchased jointly by the County and the City of Albemarle. The compressor portion of the unit was replaced during the FY 97-98 budget. The County and the City share the cost of maintaining the systems.
The Stanly County Firefighters’ Association is made up of all departments in the County. The Albemarle Professional Firefighters’ Association is the local of the International Association of Firefighters’ Association labor union. A mobile “Fire Safety House” was a result of the joint effort of these two organizations. The Fire Marshal’s office schedules the use of the unit, does most of the towing and set up of the units, and has had the primary role of educating literally thousands of children in fire safety using the units.