By John Schaffner

Practically the whole night shift of Fire Station 21 in Buckhead showed up at the July 7 meeting of the Neighborhood Planning Unit B (NPU-B) board to say thanks primarily to Aaron’s Inc. for the new furniture recently delivered for the firefighters, but also to the community for its support of the Fire Rescue Department unit.

It was a night that public safety took center stage at the NPU-B meeting, since most of the business on the agenda was relatively routine and had been well-discussed in advance at the committee meetings.

The firefighters from the Roswell Road station just north of Peachtree explained that the Fire Rescue force for the city no longer had furloughs to deal with, and the department may be allowed to hire up to 150 some new firefighters, but they face a continuing stream of retirements from the department. In short order, they said, one third of the present force will be retiring.

And, they also explained that just because the furloughs no longer exist doesn’t mean there won’t still be brownouts of stations and units from time to time.

They indicated they still are operating with only three to four firefighters on a truck, when they said there should be five per unit.

In response to questions, the firefighters explained that they still do not have GPS systems on the trucks to help locate destinations and map routes when they answer a call.

They explained the city has been discussing a form of these systems since the 1980s, but funding and technology improvements have kept them from getting the computerized units.

They said they may get the terminals in the trucks in a matter of months—now that the mounting brackets have been installed—but, in the meantime, some of the firefighters use the GPS systems on their personal phones to plot their paths to fire calls.

Also, the told the NPU board members they are still waiting for the leaking roof at the station to be repaired and also for a new coat of paint for the firehouse located in the heart of the Buckhead village area.

Lt. Mark Cotter, recently re-assigned as the night watch lieutenant for Zone 2 of the Atlanta Police Department, told the board that Zone 2 crime overall is down 8 percent Jan.1 to June 27 over the same period last year. That is a reduction of 240 crimes year-to-year. However he said there has been an increase in aggravated assaults and burglaries over last year.

Speaking of burglaries, Cotter said Zone 2 officers had made eight arrests for such crimes in the Garden Hills area of Buckhead. He said one burglary suspect was arrested on a charge of prowling in Garden Hills, but they could not make a burglary case against the individual.

However, that suspect is on his way back to prison, because he was found to have more than one parole violation.

Turning to business on the agenda, the board added its stamp of approval to the Safety Committee’s thumbs up to alcoholic license requests by the two Buckhead Target stores, on Peachtree Road and at Lindbergh Station, to sell beer and wine, and for changes of ownership of licenses for Mosaic restaurant, 3097 Maple Drive, and the new Lenox Square Grill in Lenox Mall. It also approved a license for a new Italian restaurant, Caffe Fortunato, which will be opened in September by Michael Fortunato at 3749 Roswell Road.

The board also heard details of a Aug. 1 special event the Five Paces lounge will be outside its location on Irby from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.

All the non-controversial zoning matters before the NPU were routinely approved upon the recommendation of the Zoning Committee.