Like most areas of local government and services, the Georgetown Fire Department is working to plan for a future of continued rapid growth. The department’s 2020-25 strategic plan was put into effect at the beginning of this year. The prior strategic plan was for 2014-17, after which the department operated on a business plan.

The strategic plan gives the department a clear vision and direction as calls for service across the city and its extraterritorial jurisdiction increase, Fire Chief John Sullivan said.

The department serves more than 100,000 residents and deploys from five stations located throughout the 139 square miles of coverage area.

Two additional stations are planned to open in April. The construction of Fire Station 6 cost $5.5 million and Fire Station 7 cost $6.3 million. Both were funded from the general fund with certificate of obligation bonds, which do not require voter approval, Communication Manager Keith Hutchinson said. The Georgetown Fire Department was established in 1881 as an all-volunteer organization, staff documents said. Now the all-career organization also provides nonemergency services to include prefire planning, arson investigation, community education and disaster preparation.

“People are quick to assume our primary role is fire when it’s not,” Sullivan said.

The strategic plan was community-driven, with a diverse makeup of residents sought for input, according to Sullivan. He said community members were asked to score the services the department provides; scores were then used to rank the services from best to worst: medical services, fire suppression, technical rescue, domestic preparedness, hazardous material mitigation, community risk reduction, fire investigation, fire and life safety education. The order shows that the community sees the fire department as a reactive system that responds to emergencies as opposed to being preventive, Sullivan said.

Residents were also polled about their expectations for the department, which were, in order from highest to lowest: fast response, competent and trained workforce, community outreach, keep pace with growth, customer service.

Finally, community members were asked about their concerns, which were, from most concerning to least: growth and demand on services, communication, sufficient tax base to support costs, timely response.