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Ocoee looks at dropping city fire services, hiring Orange County to take over

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Updated: 1/23 1:26 pm
OCOEE, Fla. -- The city of Ocoee is looking at getting rid of its fire services and hiring Orange County to take over, but the city's mayor isn't happy about that idea.
 
Four fire stations in Ocoee means quick response times during emergencies.
 
"They're right there. They can match or beat the time Orange County can get there," said Ocoee Mayor Scott Vandergrift.
 
The mayor said his main concern is response times to Ocoee neighborhoods. He fears residents will get slower service from the county.
 
The city manager sees it as a cost-cutting measure. He did not respond to WFTV Channel 9's Ryan Hughes' requests for an interview.
 
Hughes learned that the city manager told the mayor and city commissioners on Tuesday night that getting rid of city fire services could save residents more than $1.5 million a year.
 
The mayor said it's unclear what would happen to the 50 city firefighters, four fire stations and city-owned fire equipment.
 
Residents Hughes spoke to weren't in favor of the plan.
 
"I'm not so sure I like the idea of less jobs, if it means that, and if it meant higher response times.  I'm not sure if I'm in favor of that either," said resident Sean Whitman.
 
"If we already have a local fire department that's less than a mile from my house why would we want to go to a county?" said resident Darlene Nieto.
 
Hughes learned that there are about six Orange County fire stations in or around Ocoee, that could be used to service the city.
 
  The mayor said the plan is in its infancy, and if it moves forward, it might go to residents for a vote. 

City officials have scheduled a workshop for Feb. 26 to discuss the proposal. That workshop is open to the public, but officials emphasized that no decision on the issue will be made at that meeting

Video: WFTV Orlando
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