Fire Crew Won’t Move From Century To McDavid; Century Presents Erroneous Data To Make Case

October 31, 2013

A paid Escambia Fire Rescue crew currently assigned to Century won’t be shifted to the McDavid Fire Station in an effort to improve the level of service across the North Escambia area. The decision was made after the Town of Century made their case to county leaders using erroneous data from an Internet site.

Escambia County Fire Rescue Patrick Grace said Wednesday afternoon that Escambia County Interim Administrator George Touart had decided earlier in the day that the paid crew would remain in Century. Earlier in the day, Touart, Grace, Public Safety Director Mike Weaver, Century Mayor Freddie McCall and Escambia Fire Rescue Century District Chief Regi Burkett met to discuss the idea.

“Moving the paid crew to Molino would have had a bigger impact for the taxpayer’s dollar,” Grace said. “It would have greatly improved service levels.”

A daytime paid fire crew in Century has answered 108 calls during the past year, many of which were in Flomaton. If the crew had been stationed in McDavid, they would have been dispatched on over 160 calls across parts of North Escambia, Grace said.

During Wednesday’s meeting, McCall presented a memo to Touart, Weaver and Grace asking that fire crew remain in Century. The memo listed mileages between the Century and McDavid fire stations and destinations including local schools. The data presented by the Town of Century showed moving the fire crew from Century to McDavid would result in increased mileage, and travel time, to the schools.

However, discovered some of the listed data presented by McCall was erroneous. Century’s data shows the distance from the McDavid Fire Station to Ernest Ward Middle School at 17.72 miles; however, the actual distance is only 12 miles.   Century’s data also overstated the mileage from McDavid to Northview High School  by 3.81 miles, and from McDavid to Bratt Elementary School by an extra 4.8 miles.  (See charts at bottom of article.)

In their data, Century did not include Molino Park Elementary School, which is seven miles closer to the McDavid Fire Station than Century and would benefit from a much faster response time.

Century Town Clerk Leslie Gonzalez said she obtained the mileages for the mayor’s memo presentation from the Mapquest website. confirmed that, with a ordinary search, Mapquest does return the incorrect mileages due to mapping a partially incorrect route. (Editor’s note: In our computations, used mileages as provided by Google Maps using the most direct route over paved roads via verified correct routes.)

In his effort to convince Touart to keep the fire crew in Century, McCall also presented data showing there are 70 tax paying businesses in the Town of Century. He did not present any information about the number of businesses outside Century that would be served by a paid fire crew if it were moved to McDavid.

According to the University of West Florida’s Haas Center for Business Research and Economic Development, there are 259 licensed businesses operating in the Century zip code; 250 in the Mcdavid/Walnut Hill zip code, and 425 in Molino.  It should be noted that the business numbers from both the Town of Century and the Haas Center include numerous small, home-based businesses.

An attempt to reach Touart for comment Wednesday afternoon  was unsuccessful..

Paid Firefighter Crew

The paid firefighter crew currently staffs the Century Fire Station from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday-Friday. The crew provides coverage during the daytime hours when many volunteers are unavailable due to employment outside the area. Volunteer firefighters answer calls at other times and on the weekends.

Until a few weeks ago, a paid crew was stationed at the Molino Fire Station during the same hours. But Molino’s paid crew was among those transferred to the Cantonment Station in order to provide 24/7 paid coverage after Cantonment experienced an overall lack of volunteer response. Since the switch, volunteers have worked to answer calls in Molino around the clock.

From the more centrally located McDavid Fire Station on Highway 29, a paid firefighter crew would have been dispatched and been able to answer calls a few miles — and just a few minutes — away in Century, Molino and Walnut Hill during the daytime hours when the availability of volunteers is the lowest. Volunteer firefighters in those areas would still have been dispatched and respond to call in their districts.

“Moving the fire crew to McDavid would have greatly benefited the tax paying citizens north of Cantonment,” Weaver said.  Fire taxes and fees collected from Molino north fall just short of funding the expense of the paid crew currently assigned to Century.

“Molino would have benefited from the move. Walnut Hill would have benefited from the move,” he said. “Those citizens are paying for that service.”

Weaver noted that the volunteers at the Walnut Hill and McDavid fire stations have  historically good response rates and times to calls in their district.  The Walnut Hill fire district is 225 square miles — comprising over one-third of Escambia County’s total 660 square mile area. A paid crew in McDavid would have been poised to provide coverage in the immediate Walnut Hill area when Walnut Hill volunteers were answering calls in outlying areas of their relatively massive fire district.




19 Responses to “Fire Crew Won’t Move From Century To McDavid; Century Presents Erroneous Data To Make Case”

  1. Why on November 1st, 2013 5:41 pm

    Why does Flomaton FD ask Century FD to continue to response to a call in Flomaton even though the fire is out? It cost to much money to roll apparatus when it’s not needed!!! This has been happening to much and for a long time.

  2. sniper on November 1st, 2013 3:57 pm

    Hey! I have a great idea. Lets just put paid crews at every station and raise taxes. Century is obvious more populated than McDavid and Molino. What this board has lost sight of is that McDavid, Century, Walnut Hill, and Molino all have active local volunteers that work hard for their stations. Basically for FREE. Putting paid crews in runs off volunteer help. I wonder what happened to all those DEDICATED volunteers that used be at Cantonment?!?! They were pushed out and forced to drive out of district if they still wanted to help volunteer in another community. If lack of volunteer support is an issue let me ask another question. I will direct this to the reading eyes of chief officers from ECFR. Where are the recruitment campaigns for volunteers? On a link buried in a ridiculous web page that even county employees can’t find? Why has ECFR failed to recruit in our high schools and colleges? Give us students something to gain besides parties and getting into trouble all while earning degrees and building a successful and safe county. I truly hope I’ve struck a nerve in someone who can make an honest effort at making Escambia county a somewhat self-supporting place to live.

  3. still fishy on November 1st, 2013 5:52 am

    Not to sound rude but I pay my taxes in escambia county Florida. This means I expect response in my county and State no to Flomaton Alabama. If they want a guaranteed response from career firemen they’ll have to pay for it just like we do. If the decision not to centrally locate our only guaranteed response was based on bad numbers they should revisit this. I hope hope our county commissioners will correct this and tell George Touart to make it right. Unless they build a firehouse next to every residence, there will always be people who will be complaining about fire departments responding from a distance away. Put them in McDavid and everyone will benefit from it. Not just a small group of people. Thank you William for your excellent investigation and thank volunteer and career firemen for what you do.

  4. Resident Of Escambia County, Alabama on October 31st, 2013 11:15 pm

    Does Flomaton help reimberse the Century Fire Department ?? Moving them would have hurt Flomaton real bad.

  5. well on October 31st, 2013 7:57 pm

    Good for you Mayor McCall. So many others seem to want them moved, absolutely no reason for you not to ask to keep them where they are.

  6. Fishy indeed on October 31st, 2013 4:06 pm

    So the kids at Molino Park just have to take what they can get, sounds like to me. Great plan!! Not surprised, one little bit, that our taxes are being poorly appropriated!!

  7. Lady on October 31st, 2013 3:19 pm

    I think it is great that Freddy McCall stood up for Century. Wish we had someone to stand up for Walnut Hill, Davisville and McDavid. The county does not know we exist. We pay HIGH PROPERTY TAXES but other states are allowed to bring their children to our schools WITHOUT PAYING ANY. Our Fire Department depends on volunteers and do a great job but not rewarded.

  8. Not You on October 31st, 2013 3:08 pm

    I am with David on this one. If the citizens of Century want full time fire protection then they can stand up a City Fire Department independent of Escambia County.

  9. David Huie Green on October 31st, 2013 12:50 pm

    “I for one am thankful for the Century FD. If the County wants more firefighters in Molino, McDavid area, simple fix HIRE MORE!”

    That WOULD be one solution.

    Another would be for the Town of Century to hire more and not depend on County funds to provide fire and medical protection.

    I benefit more under the current situation, but since the paid fire fighters are paid out of funds from all county residents, they are not the property or exclusive employees of Century or even Bluff Springs. The greatest benefit to the greatest number would be the best use of MSBU dollars.

    Regarding rapid response times: the best way to improve that is to call for help as soon as possible. The most sensible method which comes to mind is a smoke detector tied to a loud alarm which will phone in the location if a KILL button isn’t hit within a minute or two or if a CALL button IS hit on the alarm. It should include a repeating message something like, “A smoke detector at 151 Bluff Springs Road has alerted for over two minutes without any response by residents. Please dispatch help. GPS location is….“ (Obviously, the owners should record the exact message, although GPS location should also be built in.)

    That way fire fighters would be dispatched at soonest time while there is still something left to save other than the neighbors’ houses.

    David for GPS cell phone smoke detectors
    (whether they exist yet or not)

  10. daniel on October 31st, 2013 11:55 am

    I don’t believe the Mayor would deliberately give erroneous information to county officials conserning this issue. He simply used information that was provided to him by his staff. The only way to get a truly accurate milage and responce time would be to actually drive the routes the Fire Department would use if they were responding to a call. I checked the distances from each location to the different Fire Stations AND GUESS WHAT I got different numbers than the ones that were posted as the “Correct Data from Google Maps”. As an old friend of mine used to say “imanginary dat”.

  11. Michelle D. on October 31st, 2013 11:06 am

    Amen Sam! Town of Century has been promised the moon by the county! As far as Mayor McCall giving wrong mileage to the County? He has assistants that look things up for him and I guess he slipped by not checking this out. But, to call him a liar is overstepping it a bit. He has tried to help the Town of Century!

    If you live in Century you would understand that a normal home, mobile home only takes about 7 minutes to burn. I for one am thankful for the Century FD. If the County wants more firefighters in Molino, McDavid area, simple fix HIRE MORE!

  12. poohbear on October 31st, 2013 11:02 am

    Mayor McCall is doing the job the people hired him to do, and that is to do what he can to protect the citizens of Century. You can’t blame the Mayor for Mapquests mistake. I have used Mapquest many times myself before. William was not trying to make Mayor McCall out to be a liar, but he too was doing the job he is hired to do.

  13. Ben on October 31st, 2013 9:15 am

    Concerned, the point of all of this is that more children will be saved from certain death if you move the fire crew to McDavid.

  14. sam on October 31st, 2013 9:15 am

    thanks mayor for standing up for century. i can see why everyone is trying to take care of their area. i live in century, we have been lied to for so many years by county officials we are a little paranoid when those same people even glance this way. and rightfully so. if my house catches fire and that truck is in mcdavid 8 or 9 minutes makes a difference if you use map quest or google earth.

  15. fishy on October 31st, 2013 9:06 am

    If this doesn’t sound fishy I don’t know what does. For once the county is trying to improve the coverage for us northescambia residents and we have a mayor who supplies wrong numbers just to get it his way… what a shame. Thank you william for uncovering the truth and I hope our county commissioner will stand up to mccall and the century fire chief and tell George he needs to fix this mess. Forget the who’s my friend politics and do what is right for all of us here in the north end, not just the few tax paying citizens in century itself. Do what is right Mr. Barry call those who tried to deceive the county fire chief and it’s residents to justice.

  16. Frank on October 31st, 2013 8:28 am

    Kudoo’s to Mcall for fighting for his constituents- i know they are also CC steves also- but there are a lot more that the tax payers cover in the mcDavid area— where is Commisioner Steve @ when ya need him?…. We need a full time County Commisioner NO a NO show like we have… Go to to him he will NOT even return ya calls

  17. Concerned on October 31st, 2013 7:25 am

    So you mean to tell me all we think about is the businesses burning down what about families homes that can be destroyed or children that could be killed about time the fire trucks come from McDavid.

  18. that figures on October 31st, 2013 5:56 am

    Say it is not so……. George Touart involved with erroneous data? I don’t expect much from Freddie McCall who obviously does not verify his own data. Probably because he doesn’t know how to. Our County administrator ought to know better. Seems like he’s falling back into his old habits…. seems like our County commissioners need to start fact checking touart’s reports. I thought he was interim anyways. Lets time I checked interim is not a synonym for PERMANENT. Good ole boy politicking still alive and breathing…… Mr. TOUART, I pay my taxes and would expect you to be a good steward of my money regardless of what issues arise; not to entertain the city of Century.

  19. Oversight on October 31st, 2013 5:41 am

    Say it ain’t so…Century Mayor lies to the county adminstrator by “stretching” the truth on distance and the acutal numbers of business within the town limits?! Thanks William for letting all of North Escambia know just how low Century’s elected officials and employees will go. And so Touart and the County Fire Chief were duped by Century – not only a professional embarassment but also Priceless!

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