Fla. fire chief: Why I denied mutual aid request

The decision was made due to funding considerations of the county; the chief admitted to making mutual aid decisions on a case-by-case basis


DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla. — An assistant fire chief who denied a mutual aid request to a house fire last year spoke out for the first time concerning his decision.

MyPanHandle.com reported that the Liberty Volunteer Fire Department was asked by Walton County Fire Rescue for assistance at a house fire in a rural part of the county last November. Assistant Fire Chief Tony Roy, with the Liberty Volunteer Fire Department, said the decision was made due to funding considerations of the county.

"It was a quick decision," Chief Roy said. "And it's based on our board — our board had unanimously voted on several occasions to stop rendering aid."

The department doesn't have a mutual aid agreement with Walton County Fire Rescue, according to the report.

"They chose last year not to sign the mutual aid agreement since the county had stopped funding to the independent fire districts," Fire Chief Bobby Martin, with Walton County Fire Rescue, said.

As a result, both departments had to increase their assessments to charge $75 a year. Chief Roy said the money is enough to support their district, but not for mutual aid costs.

"We can't continue going to those calls and ruining our equipment," Roy said. "And we got to a point and said, 'Hey, we can no longer do that and still serve our community.' Our community has got to be number one."

A mutual aid agreement is still on the table, but the departments are in a political impasse. Liberty Fire admitted to making mutual aid decisions on a case-by-case basis, according to the report. Walton County Fire Rescue said they respond to calls for help from any agency.

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