MACCLENNY, Fla. – The Macclenny Fire Department may no longer be the first to respond to fires outside of city limits if the county approves a new proposal next month.
That could mean that instead of firefighters already on the clock responding to a fire, residents would have to wait for volunteers to be called into work and then head out to the emergency.
Currently, the city, which has a fully staffed, paid fire department, responds to nearby fires first -- even those beyond the city line -- before requesting mutual aid from the county, which has a mostly volunteer department.
The city of Macclenny even purchased a firetruck, dubbed Tower One, to help cover areas outside the city limits, including the Walmart distribution center on Commerce Road.
The Baker County Fire Department currently has only one paid staff member -- the chief -- and plans to hire two more full-time firefighters. A team of at least four responders is required before firefighters can attempt to go into a fire.
Under the new proposal, which will be voted on Dec. 4, the county would have to be the first to respond before asking for help from the city -- even if the city's fully staffed station is physically closer to a fire.
“Ultimately, whoever can respond the quickest -- it’s all about property and lives,” Baker County resident Brad Dougherty said. “If the county can get there and they can do what needs to be done and they have the resources, I think it’s fine.”
Baker County resident Bob Gerard expressed some concern.
“If it was a situation where I needed someone to be right there, I would want the person who is going to be there the quickest to come and take care of my fire,” Gerard said.
The revised mutual aid agreement was presented to the city last week. If it's approved, it would go into effect Jan. 1.
Representatives for the two fire departments were not available for comment Friday.