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No aid fire chief offers no apology

The chief who refused to dispatch a tender to a mutual-aid fire due to no formal agreement, stands by his call


DeFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla. — The Liberty (Fla.) Volunteer Fire Department assistant chief who told dispatch to bypass his department for a mutual-aid request is standing by his decision.

Chief Tony Roy said not only should the county have expected that response in wake of their defunding the department in 2014, they can expect more of the same in the future.

The dust up came to a head last November when the Walton County Fire Department requested a tender from Liberty for a house fire where it had limited water supply.

In addition to defunding the volunteer department, the county and Liberty have been unable to reach a mutual-aid agreement.

“We’ve kept putting them on notice that you’re going to have to help us or we’re not going to be able to respond to anymore county calls,” Roy told NFW Daily News.

Roy also serves on the Liberty district’s board that voted to end the mutual-aid agreement with Walton County and has been unable to renew it.

According to the report, Walton County provided Liberty with a $94,804 stipend in FY2014, which went along with $53,725 it received from taxes. Liberty, a taxing authority, has since boosted its fire tax.

Walton County Fire Chief Bobby Martin told the Daily News that he has tried to re-establish the mutual-aid agreement at Liberty district meetings; the district won’t budge until some or all of the stipend is reinstated.

Martin said his department will respond to any calls for help from Liberty with or without an agreement.

Liberty Fire Chief John Dunham can send trucks to the county if he wants and said he would have done so had he been in town during the November fire. He said he’d never withhold aid if lives were at stake.

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