Local News

Garner fire department to take over rescue squad's duties

Posted September 23, 2010 10:03 a.m. EDT
Updated September 23, 2010 4:32 p.m. EDT

The Garner Rescue Squad faces a sexual assault investigation and lacks a leader following the resignation of its chief.

— The Garner Volunteer Fire Department will take over services provided by Garner EMS & Rescue Squad on Oct. 1, months earlier than planned, after the squad's leader resigned amid a sexual assault investigation involving the agency.

The nonprofit Garner Rescue Squad had provided search and rescue services and non-emergency ambulance services under a one-year, $280,000 contract with the town. The fire department will officially take over those services at 8 a.m. on Oct. 1.

"Service delivery should be seamless," Fire Chief Matt Poole said. "We are excited to be taking primary responsibility for this much-needed service within the town limits."

"Garner citizens will ultimately benefit from the new arrangement," Mayor Ronnie Williams said in a statement. "We believe this is leading us to the most efficient and effective solution that serves town residents."

Three full-time rescue squad workers will become employees of the fire department. The town of Garner will also gain ownership of blue, heavy rescue truck, which it plans to sell.

Garner EMS & Rescue will continue to provide medical transportation and other services, said Ralph Smith, chair of the board of directors.

"We wish out three departing colleagues all the best in their new role with Garner Fire," Smith said in a statement. "The community's need for reliable and competent rescue and extrication services will be well-managed in the new service delivery arrangement."

The fire department was originally scheduled to take over services from Garner Rescue in January. Funding for the new arrangement was included in Garner's 2010-11 budget.

Wake County EMS began providing emergency medical services in Garner last May because of the rescue squad's mounting financial difficulties.

Earlier in September, Rescue Squad Chief Bill Frederick resigned Tuesday, six days after a squad employee allegedly sexually assaulted a woman in the former Garner EMS & Rescue Squad office on Seventh Avenue. Frederick cited personal reasons for his resignation.

No criminal charges have been filed in the alleged sexual assault, and no other Garner Rescue employees have resigned or been fired in the case.