Riverdale city council votes to merge fire services with Clayton County

The city of Riverdale voted to move forward with its proposal to merge its fire department with Clayton County. 

It's a proposal that has had some residents concerned. The motion passed 3 to 1 on Saturday afternoon.

"I think Clayton County and Riverdale joining forces will lead to a safer Riverdale and because of that, I make a motion that we move forward with the intergovernmental agreement between Clayton County and the city of Riverdale with the revision of fire and emergency services," said Councilwoman Mary Granison, as she motioned to vote. 

The city manager told people attending Wednesday's meeting that Clayton County's fire equipment and staffing levels are rated higher than Riverdale by the nonprofit insurance services office.

The city's website states the fire department's budget for the year is around $2.2 million, and the mayor claimed during Monday's meeting the county fire department's takeover would save them $15 million. 

"To stay where we are would cost, we estimate between $750,000 and a million dollars a year, plus the acquisition of two new fire trucks," said Riverdale City Manager, E. Scott Wood on Wednesday.

On Saturday, Fox 5 spoke with Councilman Kenny Ruffin after the vote.

"I voted yes to move on," he told FOX 5. "One thing a lot of people don't even realize: ambulance. The county always did that. So to have that, better equipment, newer equipment and have better trained firemen, or more trained firemen, that's what it was, it was an overall safety concern for the citizens."

FOX 5 asked residents attending Saturday's meeting if they were okay with the city's decision.

"Absolutely, 100 percent! I mean look at where we are now. We're deficient. So let's fix it," said Rodney Sylvester.

FOX 5 also spoke with An'cel Davis, a resident and former Riverdale council member.

"I think they shoved this down the citizens' throats today," he said.

We asked Councilmember Ruffin what the next steps are. 

"We have to let the county commission know, notify them in a letter that it got passed tonight, but I didn't realize it was going to take sixty days for the transition," he said.

Ruffin says there will be no lapse in fire service for residents as the merge progresses.

FOX 5 reached out to a spokesperson for Clayton County for comment on the decision and the next steps in the process. We're waiting to hear back.