Escambia Commission Postpones Vote On Unified County Fire Department

January 25, 2008

fd01.jpgThe Escambia County Commission has delayed voting on the consolidation of the county’s volunteer fire department into one unified Escambia County fire department. The commission was set to approve the creation of a countywide fire department at their Thursday night meeting.

The fire department issue will now be discussed at the commission’s committee of the whole meeting at 9:30 on February 12. The proposal would have eliminated each of the county’s volunteer departments and created a single department answering to a single county fire chief.

There are four volunteer departments in the North Escambia area…Century, McDavid, Molino and Walnut Hill. All four would be eliminated as independent departments under the county’s plan.

The commission current contract with the volunteer fire departments expires on September 30, and commissioners Gene Valentino and Mike Whitehead have publicly stated they do not wish to see the contract renewed.

“I’m not going to vote to renew a contract,” Whitehead said at a recent commission meeting. “We’ve talked about it for two years. It’s time to move; it’s time to make it happen.

Valentino and District 5 Commissioner Kevin White pushed Thursday to have the vote postponed a month.

“My concern is with volunteers who feel they haven’t been heard,” Valentino said.

“We can’t have a rural system of delivery in an urban county,” Commissioner Grover Robinson said.

“There are 15 ways of doing things differently out there,” county Fire-Rescue Chief Ken Perkins said. “And right now, there’s nothing I can do about that. I’m trying to run a $10 million department here. Right now, I feel I am hindered in doing that.”

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