Scott to drop rural fire response over LCG contract dispute - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Scott to drop rural fire response over LCG contract dispute

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Lafayette, LA -

Negotiations are underway between Lafayette Consolidated Government and the Scott Volunteer Fire Department.

Scott firefighters say parish budget cuts left them unable to protect unincorporated areas, unless they get more money.

Tuesday, Lafayette Fire Chief Robert Benoit and Mayor-President Joel Robideaux are gave their sides of the story.

"Now of course, if some agreement is reached before midnight on Dec. 26th, then everything goes back to normal," said Benoit.

If an agreement can't be reached, Robideaux has a plan.

"We're fortunate in that Lafayette does have the capacity to provide those services, and will provide those services," said Robideaux.

In that case, most of the other six volunteer fire departments, who also help service the unincorporated parts of the parish, would have to pick up the slack.

A letter from an attorney for the Scott Volunteer Firefighters said that last year, Scott handled more than double the calls of any other department in the parish.

"Scott was one of the ones that exceeded the funding and went on more calls than what the $50,000 allotment, in their minds for sure, allowed them to do," said Robideaux.  

The letter goes on to estimate that the new operating fund of $50,000 would cut the department's annual compensation from LCG by more than 62 percent.

The president of the Scott Fire Board added that the firefighters have continued to work without any financial help since their contract with LCG ended in October.

"The $50,000 was available for Scott to go on calls and probably would've lasted about 5-7 months' worth of calls. They chose not to accept the $50,000," said Robideaux.

However, city-parish officials say negotiations are still ongoing.

"I'd be happy to have any conversations going forward with the Scott Volunteer Fire Department on coming up with a resolution, but I'm not going to take money from the other volunteer firefighters to give to Scott," said Robideaux.

If an agreement isn't reached LCG plans to take back all of the fire engines and equipment it loaned to the Scott Fire Department, and begin charging for dispatch and additional protection services.

In the meantime, Benoit assured that everyone who lives in the parish will be protected. 

"To the public: you're not going to see any differences in response, and you're not going to see any differences in service. Because, it's not something that's going to cause us a lot of heartburn. We would prefer not to go that route, but we're going to do it until we can get the problem corrected," said Benoit.

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