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Palm Coast Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017 1 year ago

County considers taking over Bunnell's fire department

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The city can't afford the upgrades it would need to stay compliant with state and federal standards.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

Bunnell runs its own fire department using volunteers. But the county may take it over, merging with the city's staff to provide fire services for the city of Bunnell. The county already handles about 94% of the city's calls, according to county staff.

"The city of Bunnell is a volunteer service, and they have a decision before them whether to go big or go home," County Administrator Craig Coffey said. "All they're doing is spending a lot of equipment money and getting very little return."

The county has had discussions with the city in the past about taking over the fire department, and been rebuffed.

But the city's new fire chief, Ron Bolser, a former battalion chief with the county, has been more receptive to the idea. 

The county already handles all of the city's emergency medical calls, Coffey said. and the county also doesn't rely on the city to put out fires, because the volunteer nature of the county's staff makes it unreliable. 

Bolser, County Fire Chief Don Petito told the County Commission at a workshop Aug. 22, recently conducted an analysis of the Bunnell Fire Department and state and federal compliance requirements for training level, equipment standards and apparatus standards.

The city found that brining its fire department up to standard would be financially out of the city's reach without county help.

Bunnell has one fire truck that's 15 years old. The life expectancy of the particular kind of truck the city has is 19 years. 

"They're going to need to replace it, or give up," Petito said. 

The city is also due to replace a good deal off firefighter personal protective gear. At today's prices, he said, one setup for one person is $3,100.

If the county merges with the city's fire department, Coffey said, the city volunteers would become county volunteers, and in many cases get additional training to bring them up to county standards.

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