Some question JFRD response times

Fire Chief says problem nonexistent, 'a political agenda'

Published On: Apr 03 2013 04:46:10 PM EDT   Updated On: Apr 03 2013 09:10:00 PM EDT
JFRD fire truck
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Firefighters were able to put the Pumpkin Hill fire out without anyone getting hurt or any homes or businesses getting damaged.

But now some are questioning safety and response times, saying the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department didn't have enough resources there quick enough, and this fire had the potential to be very dangerous.

Those with the fire union say one of the specialized brush trucks used to go off road had to travel 33 miles to get to the Northside fire, and they say that's just too far and too long.

But the head of the Fire Department says his crews had the resources they needed, and everything worked out ideally.

"This stuff is not good," fire union President Randy Wyse said.

He said because of changes to the department, only two of JFRD's five trucks were staffed at the time. They had to make the haul from Baldwin and Mandarin to the Northside.

Wyse said trucks often aren't manned so the department can save on costs. But he said that decision could be costly.

Fire Chief Marty Senterfitt said the problem is nonexistent.

"It's just a rumor being stirred up because of honestly some political agenda," he said.

Senterfitt said his budget is actually higher than it's ever been, and choosing to not have brush trucks constantly staffed frees up firefighters for medical emergencies and house fires. He says when crews needed these special trucks Tuesday, it was an easy transition and didn't cause any problems.

"Literally within moments we just took somebody off an engine, put them on the brush truck and responded," Senterfitt said. "So there was no delay in service."

Councilman Don Redman is the vice chair of the city's public safety committee. He says JFRD is doing everything right with the hand it's dealt right now. And funding the department is a big priority, he says, but when it comes to cutting services, he says the city must be careful.

"They are potentially risking public safety if we go any deeper than we are now," Redman said.