Jacksonville Beach votes in favor of fire department merger

Jacksonville City Council still has to vote on the measure

By Jennifer Ready - Reporter, Corley Peel - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. - Jacksonville Beach city leaders met Monday night and voted in favor of a plan to merge the city’s fire department with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department.

The City of Jacksonville still has to vote. If the merger happens, JFRD would provide services to people living in Jacksonville Beach.

The proposal has been faced with opposition. According to a recent poll conducted by the University of North Florida, 46% of registered voters who were surveyed support Jacksonville Beach contracting out its fire services to the city of Jacksonville, while 41% oppose it.

Some in favor of the move said it would make a positive difference by providing better staffing to prevent fatigue and would also increase the opportunities for promotion and improve training.

Those against the proposal worry it would make response times longer. The Jacksonville Beach fire marshal has said the response time would increase from 4 minutes to roughly 5 ½ minutes.

Shawn Oshell is a Jacksonville Beach firefighter. He believes a merger will improve response times, not hinder them.

"They would probably go down," Oshell said. "We would get there quicker it’s a unified command. You’re not waiting on an ambulance to show up to be dispatched."

Should the merger be approved, current employees of the Jacksonville Beach Fire Department will be offered a job by the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department if they meet the employment standards, according to the agreement.

Council members said the move could save $1.5M over a 10 year period.

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