Alligator Point, St. Teresa and Bald Point residents, in this time of urgency it has become increasingly apparent of our fire department’s misgivings.
The very promises that our fire department, the Alligator Point St. Teresa Volunteer Fire Department, made to us all so we would increase their MSBU funding have been broken. Our entire community in 2013 voted to raise our Municipal Services Benefit Unit assessment from $50 to $95 on the promise of a new fire station to benefit the entire fire district, a ladder truck, and a fire boat to provide additional fire protection to reduce insurance rates for St. Teresa.
These three life- and property-saving objectives were the reason we increased our MSBU. In addition, our MSBU money that we pay every year, $95, which by law can only be used for fire protection and rescue, has been used improperly.
It’s time for the citizens to take control and oversight of our fire department; we all own our APSTVFD, and our lives, safety and property are all at risk. None of the above promises have been fulfilled.
Rather than build the new fire station as planned and promised; which was and is shovel-ready on a donated piece of land, in the center of the fire district, with plans drawn, our fire department bought a lot for $90,000 next to Harbor Point Realty on Alligator Point for the new station.
The new station promised would have included an EMS station and sheriff’s station located in the center of our fire district. Our EMS now responds from west of Carrabelle, 40 minutes for an ambulance to respond to Alligator Point.
Every single person within our fire district is at risk of entrapment and death because our fire department has not purchased the ladder truck as promised.
St. Teresa property owners are still paying over $300,000 a year in increased insurance rates because their fire department has not reduced their insurance rates as promised.
St. Teresa has little to no fire protection. The St. Teresa fire truck; specifically designed for St. Teresa to control a house fire for hours by itself, until additional help arrives, has been reduced to only 30 minutes of firefighting. This lack of operational knowledge has led to the destruction of a $100,000 piece of equipment and consequently has put St. Teresa at great risk.
It is disturbing to know our fire department gave themselves a banquet, with our MSBU money!
It’s time for our fire department leadership to honor the lifesaving commitments made to our community, and lead our department in the proper direction with fiduciary responsibility and with the lawful use of public funds they have been entrusted with.
Our firefighters and first responders are great people and perform a great service while putting themselves at risk. We all love and appreciate them! On the other hand, we expect our fire department’s leadership to lead by example and make the right decisions! Our department leadership must serve all the people of our fire district, rather than continuing the distorted and confusing direction they have pursued, benefiting only a few.
In closing, it is time for Franklin County commissioners to initiate a complete review of our fire department. Perform a study of our fire departments’ past operation and commitments, along with the current and future needs of our community. This study should be done publicly, include the department, the public and with county government participation/oversight. Once completed, recommendations can be made and followed, assuring our fire department’s proper operation.
Retired paramedic and Alligator Point St. Teresa volunteer fire chief