JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville City Council on Thursday was going over how to spend over $1.5 billion of your tax dollars.
Councilmembers heard Thursday from various departments about what they need and how much it will cost to operate. First up was Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department and Chief Keith Powers was there to lay out its plans.
He asked for more firefighters and new life-saving equipment.
A new fire station in E-town recently opened in a fast-growing area on the Southside and that is just one of the changes that have taken place. The changes are costing the city more money to build and to staff. In this upcoming budget, the department wants to spend over $343 million.
A good chunk of that is going towards salaries, about $175 million, and the department is asking for extra money to pay for 94 additional positions. Only about half of the positions would be new, but JFRD is asking for money for more than 90 positions because some of those spots had been paid for by a federal grant that is no longer there.
One area that will see changes is rescue.
JFRD hopes to have two new critical care units that will be used in situations where patients can’t be moved but need blood transfusion which the fire chief said could have saved a life in a train accident in Jacksonville
“We are going to place one on each side of the river,” Powers said. “If you have someone in a prolonged entrapment for example that needs blood we will have the ability to give them blood while we’re extracting them from the trapped wreckage.”
Council committee members heard about this and the other proposal from the fire chief. That’s in addition to the new fire stations that caught most of the attention.
“The fact that we are getting more fire stations is very, very important to all of our citizens because that reduces the time it takes for somebody to get to you when you really need it,” councilmember Joyce Morgan said.
Powers said insurance rates have come down in Jacksonville because of new stations and JFRD will also hopefully begin building a new fire marine station this year near NAS Jax.