Barrow Fire adopts tweaked official title

WINDER - Once known as Barrow County Fire and Emergency Services, the agency in charge of dousing fires - and generally saving lives - in Barrow is changing its name to reflect the broader services it offers.

The tweaked name - Barrow County Emergency Services - took effect June 27, when two additional departments officially came under the command of Chief Mark Melvin.

The additions - 911 Central Communications and the Emergency Management Agency - have joined the county's Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services. The move helps all four branches coalesce, Melvin said.

The Barrow County Board of Commissioners voted to join the departments in a June meeting.

"With this move we'll work even closer together to improve our services," he said.

Commissioners also voted to install Melvin, who'd been serving as interim fire chief, as top brass of the newly formed Emergency Services.

Melvin replaced former chief Robert Post, a retired Gwinnett firefighter who took the Barrow office after another embattled chief retired, this spring. Post resigned after a public battle with the commission chairman, during which Post was served a five-day suspension for insubordination.

Post was placed on unpaid administrative leave for failing to obey new policies as the county's Board of Commissioners tried to cut costs, including allowing people to drive home county vehicles and training that was not required.

With all departments now under Melvin, he said he predicts challenges, but not insurmountable ones.

"I believe it will be a lot smoother because of the previous relationship that exists between these departments," he said, "and the employees that work in them."