Monday, February 29, 2016

Automatic Aid...Hayward Wants to Give City Services Away

The recent tragic fire that killed 4 children has raised the issue of automatic aid once again.  The fire occurred near Pensacola High School in a tiny pocket that is zoned County but is just minutes away from several Pensacola Fire Stations.  I understand the engines from the County that responded to the fire were from Marcus Pointe.

The last time this issue was prominent in the news was when Jerry's Cajun Cafe burned down less than a half mile from Pensacola Fire Station 6.  When it was discussed before the City was using its rescue trucks which sit idle now and had a fully staffed airport fire station.  Automatic aid didn't make sense then and certainly does not make sense now.

Pensacola and the Escambia County Fire Department operate under a policy of mutual aid.  Mutual aid requires one fire department to contact the other fire department to request aid.

All Escambia County had to do was make a call for mutual aid and PFD would have responded.  No such call was made.

Automatic aid would dispatch the closest fire department to any call regardless of the jurisdiction.

In the news story below, the Mayor wants to enter into an automatic aid agreement with Escambia County.  He has City Administrator Eric (Mork) Olson on it.

"We think the landscape is different now, just in the terms of relationship between the county and city, relationships between the two fire departments," he said.

Olson said the talks are still early.

City Citizens...You pay for City fire services and police services. You also pay for County fire and sheriff services.

When Hayward came into office he touted annexation as the way to grow our City.  If Hayward and Mork give away our City Fire Services for free, why in the name of (Insert Emphasis Statement Here) would any county resident want to be annexed?

Here are a few questions:
  • Station 6 is the backup for Mork and Mayor's "two men and a truck" safety program at the Airport.  If Engine 6 is running down Creighton to a slip and fail at University Mall (County) who is protecting Districts 1 and 2 and backing up the Airport?
  • Station 4 is the Station on Q Street on the Western boundary of the City.  If Engine 4 is running down toward New Warrington Road to respond to a vehicle fire, who is is going to handle a situation at the Maritime Park.
These are not simple issues.  But taxpayers deserve the services they pay for AND taxpayers don't deserve the services they don't pay for.

Why should the City taxpayers subsidize the County's fire service.

To be fair, the City located its fire stations in the 1960's with the expectation of growth and annexation.  Why do your think the stations are at the edge of the City limits?

If we want to be fair to the taxpayers AND make people on the edge of the current City limits safer, the answer is annexation not automatic aid.

If you ask people that live in the County if they would pay 60% more in property taxes to have better fire service, the answer you get is almost always NO.

But as we have all heard before, why buy the cow when your can get the milk for free.


Anonymous said...

My understanding is that the county fire trucks arrived in a very short time and the county fire chief stated that a faster response time would have made no difference with this particular fire. Hayward is solving a problem that does not exist. Problems like that are easy to solve. Wouldn't it be nice if he attacked the real problem, which is annexation? He is playing the sympathy card instead of doing his job.

Anonymous said...

Way past time to consolidate the City and County

Anonymous said...

We had a chance of annexation before buy not now since Hayward's reign of terror

Anonymous said...

With all due respect, I am a firefighter and what the Fire Chief of the Escambia County Fire Department is irrelevant. Do you really believe that he would admit that a response from the city would have made a difference? Of course he's going to say that because then he would have to answer the question why a mutual aid response from the city was never requested. Do you really believe him when he says "It wouldn't have made a difference? Is that a scientific fact, a goofy guess, or a holy hunch? He's full of crap if he's trying to say that the county's truck responding from Marcus Pointe can respond with the same results trucks responding from less than 5 miles away!

Anonymous said...

It has been nearly three weeks since the firefighters were put on administrative leave -- Where is WEAR? PNJ?

Someone needs to call the Public information director/ do nothing mr and ask these important questions!

Will Isern please inquire!

Anonymous said...

"...the county fire trucks arrived in a very short time and the county fire chief stated that a faster response time would have made no difference with this particular fire." This statement is completely bogus! A 9 minute response time compared to a 3-4 minute response time can be the difference between life and death. The fire chief obviously wants to dismiss this because of the county fire department's failure to call the city for mutual aid. "With this particular fire? That statement is for someone who knows little to nothing about structure fires. The FACT of the matter is fires double in size every minute! So do the math. The possibility of survival with a 3-4 minute response time compared to a 9 minute response time isn't even debatable.

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with the closest station. Being automatically dispatched. Preservation of life and property is a higher priority than a geo-political boundary. But for city fire serving the county and vice versa, simply leave a bill when done. That's the real solution to the well they don't pay conundrum.

Anonymous said...

That his is how Hayward and City Staff rolls. Too much negative publicity, so they'll just wait till everyone has forgotten about the firefighters being on leave and everything dies down. Just another major screw up by Hayward and his advisers.

Anonymous said...

That sounds good until your insurance rates increase because you no longer have an excellent class 2 ISO rating or resources are not available to respond to your business or residence because they are tied up at a trash fire in the county. Complete annexation waters down the services that city residents have come to enjoy. Limited annexation however makes since.

Anonymous said...

Annexation results in additional taxes which would pay for additional firefighters, police officers, fire stations, etc. People choose to live in the city because they are willing to pay more for better service. People who live outside the city are OK waiting for slower response times. The travesty is that city residents also pay county taxes so they pay for services they will never receive.

Anonymous said...

You are so right. The 7th floor Klan were praying for a bigger story to hit the news. Thank God for tornadoes and house fires, right Ashton?
As usual, Pensacola has the memory of gnats.
4 more years of The Upside!!!

PNJ Wil, what happened to your hard hitting investigative work? Is Studer not giving the ok?
Thanful we have Maren.