Theodore Dawes


Chief’s Tailboard Talk for January 2023

Hello Theodore Dawes Communities,

I hope everyone had a wonderful and joyous Christmas and New Year’s holiday. Your TDFR department has remained ever vigilant through the season and responded to 444 calls in the month of December.

I wanted to take this opportunity to give you a brief update on the state of your Fire District and Fire Department. I am happy to say that the state of the Theodore Dawes Fire Rescue Department is good. I also want to have a conversation about the “Fire Fee”.

Currently the TDFR operates out of three stations, there is Station 1 located on Freeway Ln. in the neighborhood across from Mobile Memorial Gardens. Station 1 is currently our main station, housing our business office and our staffed fire apparatus, Engine 1, a 2018 E-One custom pumper, two 2020 Ford Explorer Sprint vehicles for responding to medical calls, Brush 1, a 2021 Ford F250 with a small fire pump and tank mounted on it, and our training facility. Station 2 is located on Theodore Dawes Rd. adjacent to the Mobile County Water and Sewer Offices and houses Engine 3, a 2003 Ford conventional cab commercial pumper. Station 3, located on Three Notch-Kroner Rd west of Schillinger Rd., housing Ladder 27, a 2021 E-One Quint (meaning it can function as a pumper and has a 100 ft. aerial ladder as well as a full complement of ground ladders). Also located at Station 3 is Engine 2, a 2008 American LaFrance/Freightliner commercial chassis tanker/pumper, this truck carries 2000 gallons of water. Lastly, at Station 3 is Brush 6, a 2006 Ford F250 with the small tank and pump. All our large apparatus has extrication equipment on them for those vehicle accidents with entrapment. Station 1 is our only around-the-clock staffed facility with two personnel on shift daily. Stations 2 and 3 currently store our units and when calls are dispatched the on-duty personnel may swing by and get another apparatus, but the typical operational scenario is a volunteer will pick up the apparatus as needed and respond. We are awaiting the arrival of a new pumper from E-One that was ordered in 2021 but Covid and supply chain issues have delayed its construction. The department also owns a piece of property on South Schillinger Rd., and plans are in the works for a new and modern fire station and training facility. When that happens, I intend to place a second staffed apparatus in service. The sheer volume of calls our department makes, dictates that we have a second and eventually a third staffed unit on duty. The kicker is that all of this requires funds, which will lead me into the Main topic, the Fire Fee.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me say this regarding the fire fee. When the District was voted into existence in 2020, you created a business in your community. The business of the Fire District is the Fire Rescue Department, and our funds are contributed by you in the form of that $120 fire fee you see on your property taxes. ($125.00 for vacant property and $250.00 for commercial property). There are also the occasional donations from area businesses and individuals who like to help support our cause. Running a fire department is not a cheap endeavor, new custom fire trucks today are selling just shy of one million dollars, ranging around $700,000 to $800,000. Anything fire equipment related is also not cheap, to fully clothe a firefighter in protective gear from boots at the bottom, pants, coat, and helmet at the top we are generally looking to spend around $4,000. And this gear does not last forever, it has an expiration date, and it always runs the risk of damage. The air packs you see firefighters wear, providing fresh clean breathing air are another $10,000 to $12,000 each. I won’t even go into all the recertification cost, the cost of maintenance, and even fuel. Then there is the medical side of a fire and rescue service, again with equipment replacement cost, maintenance, and fuel, it will literally make your head spin. Your TDFR responded to 5,089 calls for service in 2022, 116 structures fires, 3,420 medical calls and several other categories that are too many to break out in this article. So, bottom line: I wanted you, the community, to know what was happening with your $10.00 a month fire fee. That is less than 35 cents a day and I’d be willing to bet that there are many who spend more than that a week on sodas and tobacco products. Less than 35 cents a day and since October we have received more calls from residents than I can count complaining about and/or refusing to pay the Fire Fee. Folks, I’m here to tell you that for less than 35 cents a day you are getting one hell of a deal. We have no agenda other than to provide the Theodore Dawes communities with the best possible services we can with what we have. Unfortunately, we all well know that it takes dollars to make things happen. We are very fortunate to have the volunteers we have because without our volunteers, our daily personnel would be run ragged. Just a little sidebar, every time you spend a dime in the Tillmans Corner area, along the Hwy. 90 corridor just out past Swedetown Rd. you are supporting the City of Mobile and Mobile Fire Rescue Department.

I hope this has been informative and gives you clarification on the importance of your Fire Fee and how we use those funds to provide emergency services.

Thank you for your continued support of the Theodore Dawes Fire Rescue Department and we look forward to serving you into the year 2023.

God bless and stay safe,

Chief Byrd