JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – In a job where seconds could mean the difference between life and death, local firefighters say delays in response times could be on the way.
Jax Beach firefighter Shawn O'Shell says proposed cuts to the rescue agency could put the public in danger. As vice president of local 2622, he says the union's battle with the city over the budget is heating up. City Council members are looking to slash $100 thousand from the department.
We wanted to know if cuts to a public safety service are necessary. But the city manager and council members didn't want to talk.
Jax Beach Mayor, Fland Sharp, sent us this statement: "As budgets keep getting smaller all of our departments, including the fire department, are going to have to learn to do business differently."
Chief Gary Frazier agrees with the mayor but wouldn't say how cuts would be implemented. According to O'Shell, one option proposed is to lay off three firefighters and run two trucks instead of three. Another option is to cut the money from JBFD's overtime pay. That means the agency would rely on volunteers on a regular basis. With high rises, beaches and big crowds, O'Shell says that counting on a volunteer for a life-saving service is a gamble.
"We do a lot with the small amount of guys we have out there now and to take three of those guys away and replace them with a volunteer is a big change and I think the citizens would see that in their service,” said O’Shell.