Fire union questions fire chief's plan

Meeting set for Thursday to discuss ambulance placement  

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - There is growing concern over fighting fires in the most rural areas of Duval County. 

The fire union is concerned over the Jacksonville Fire Rescue Department's plan to put an ambulance at Station 43  in rural Maxville and the other rural station in Black Hammock Island.

Randy Wyse, president of the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters, said the union is concerned because there are no plans for more man power.

"I think (it) will lessen the staff of these areas for large amounts of time. We don't think it's good for public safety or firefighter safety," said Wyse.

According to Wyse, the union's concern is the current people who work at the stations will also have to operate an ambulance. For instance, if they need to transport a patient downtown to the hospital, there will be even fewer people left available to answer calls, Wyse said.

"If they've got to take them to the hospital, that only leaves two guys out there. Staffing is very weak out there anyway and that makes it that much worse," said Wyse.

Duval County's Fire Chief said he believes his plan is only designed to help. Chief Marty Senterfitt spoke with Channel 4 by phone Wednesday night. He said two parts of town currently have "below standard response for ambulance service." 

Senterfitt said if he puts an ambulance in Maxville, response times will be cut from around 20 minutes to around four. Senterfitt said these areas only receive around one service call every few days and the "call volume is so low it doesn't justify more staffing."

"These two guys sit out there all by themselves. I think that's almost an 84 square mile area out there in Maxville with two people around, so it's a big concern of ours," said Senterfitt.

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