The Sandy Springs and DeKalb County fire departments have entered into an automatic aid agreement to provide faster responses to emergency calls from people living on the border of Sandy Springs and Dunwoody.

Beginning Aug. 1, units from DeKalb County’s fire station in Dunwoody will be the first to respond to fire and EMS calls to Sandy Springs residences and businesses in portions of the Sandy Springs “panhandle,” the area between the Chattahoochee River and the DeKalb County line.

Sandy Springs Fire Chief Jack McElfish said the faster response time will improve the insurance rating for those property owners.

“It’ll go from Class 10 to Class 3. It’ll save literally hundreds of thousands of dollars for people in that area,” McElfish said. “It’ll help both the county and the city.”

Sandy Springs Battalion Chief Daryl Smith said the two departments worked out the agreements after metrics for measuring fire risk changed. The new metric put properties farther than five miles from a fire station into a higher risk classification.

“It was a 10 because the new ISO rating came into effect and that area’s response time from our Station 1 at Spalding and Roberts was greater than five miles,” Smith said.

Smith said Sandy Springs will still be responding to emergency calls in the panhandle.

“Our units are also responding as well, but [DeKalb] will be there before us because they’re less than five miles,” Smith said. “The benefit is that we’re going to have better coverage in that panhandle area as far as structure fires and get people on the scene quicker.”

Sandy Springs City Councilman John Paulson, who represents the Sandy Springs panhandle, said he thinks it’s a good arrangement for his district.

“I believe it benefits both communities to have this more formalized,” Paulson said.

Bob Mullen, a spokesman for the city of Dunwoody, said the city is grateful for the agreement between the two fire departments. “We’re grateful for not only assistance from [DeKalb County Fire] Chief [Edward] O’Brien but also Sandy Springs Fire Department to make sure residents are going to have the best service possible,” Mullen said.

Smith said Sandy Springs already has an automatic aid agreement with the city of Atlanta. Sandy Springs’ Station 4, located near the intersection of Roswell and Wieuca roads, will respond to calls in Buckhead while Atlanta’s Station 27 on Northside Drive will respond to calls in Sandy Springs.

Smith said the departments have plans to expand the automatic aid agreement to all areas with contiguous borders.

“We’re eventually going to branch out and do the entire Sandy Springs/ DeKalb County border,” Smith said.