Too Many Chiefs, Not Enough Indians
I am a 17-year veteran professional firefighter. I might believe that residents fear "a loss of community identity" when it comes to law enforcement but 99.9 percent of people in Pinellas County know when they call 911 they are getting help. And they don't care - or are not even aware - if the fire truck says Safety Harbor, St. Pete Beach or Clearwater fire department.
I have lived since 1969 in unincorporated Pinellas County, and the only fire truck we had came from the High Point area near St. Petersburg Clearwater International Airport to us at Sunset Point Road and Keene Road.
Times have changed with 911 and the beauty of the mutual aid agreements among fire departments. The only people who want you to believe that the citizens of Pinellas County do not want a metro fire rescue are the upper-level offices of these fire departments. We already have universal Sunstar ambulance and paramedic response in conjunction with the closest fire department. It's one of the best EMS systems in the nation (one of the most expensive as well).
But combining fire departments does not eliminate firefighters. It would, however, eliminate 18 fire chief positions at a savings of $1.8 million with each chief making $100,000, which may be a little low. There are also 18 assistant fire chief positions to consider, 18 training chief positions, 18 fire marshal positions, if that department has a fire marshal, and so on.
I think we need to look at this in great depth before this county and its small communities go bankrupt. This will save millions of dollars.
- Craig Knarich, Palm Harbor
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