When Sally Petrick began calling around for homeowners insurance, she learned there was no dedicated fire service for her county island home and immediately put out the alarm to her neighborhood.
Almost immediately her neighbors banded together to form Chandler Fire Protection Awareness Committee — a spur-of-the-moment name Petrick thought up during one of many conversations with Chandler fire officials.
“I had to come up with something really quick,” she said.
Already, the group has seen Rural/Metro Fire Department reverse an earlier decision to stop covering her area as of Oct. 1. That department, which has moved its area fire services into Pinal County, will continue providing coverage to subscribers in the area while the county works out an agreement with Chandler to have that city’s fire department handle all emergency calls, Rural/Metro Fire Chief Gary Morris said.
But the neighborhood hasn’t gone without coverage.
“There were trucks from Rural/Metro, Chandler and Sun Lakes out here” when Petrick called 911 late last year because she smelled smoke near her home, neighbor Mike Long said.
Long has joined with Petrick to lobby Chandler and county officials to finish negotiating an intergovernmental agreement the two sides have been hashing out for at least two years.
They organized a meeting at Long’s home last week expecting about 30 residents to attend. But more than 80 people showed up. They plan to meet again Nov. 13 at Long’s home near Cooper and Chandler Heights roads.
Negotiations on an agreement that would allow county residents within Chandler to subscribe to the city’s fire services reached an impasse last year over liability issues and over who would be responsible for billing for subscriptions.
The billing issue may be solved since the county has offered to handle billing responsibilities for Gilbert if that city will provide subscription fire service, Chandler Assistant City Manager Rich Dlugas said.
Under such an agreement, residents in unincorporated areas would have the choice whether to subscribe to fire service. But non-subscribers would be billed if the fire department responded to a call to their residence.