Fire Calls Outside City Limit Ending
Polk ended the protection contract with Davenport.

By Amber Smith
The Ledger
amber.smith@theledger.com

DAVENPORT -- The city's firefighters are no longer supposed to be running emergency calls outside the city limits, said volunteer Fire Capt. Donnie Large.

Wednesday was the start of the fiscal year and the official end of city firefighters responding to calls in the unincorporated Polk County area.

But some calls still slip through.

"We ran a medical call out in the county area (Thursday) morning," Large said. "The county is apparently still showing us on their map as responding in the county.

"If we get a call, we will tell them it is in the county area, but we will still respond," he said. "We aren't not going to respond to a call."

Polk County Fire Chief Doug Lewis said full-time firefighters at Station 33, which is on U.S. 17/92 between Haines City and Davenport, will respond to most of the calls in what used to be Davenport's coverage area.

"Firefighters from Station 18 in Loughman will also respond if needed. It will just depend on where the call is," Lewis said.

County officials decided last year to end the outside protection area contract with Davenport.

Under the contract, the Davenport department received $110,000 for running fire and accident calls in the unincorporated area around the city.

The county is scaling back outside protection area contracts with local cities, instead covering those areas with its own personnel.

"It is more economical for us to run the calls ourselves," Lewis said.

Davenport Finance Director Paula Munro said the city is surviving without the county money.

"It hasn't bothered us," Munro said.

City officials have put on hold a plan to implement a public safety service fee that would help offset the loss of county money.

Council members had originally budgeted $50,000 in the 200304 city budget from the public safety fee, but withdrew it before passing the budget last month.

Large said the area firefighters cover inside the city limits is growing.

Recent annexations of land near 10th Street and North Boulevard will be stretch out the city limits.

Large did not know for sure how much additional land has been annexed. Before the recent annexations, Davenport encompassed two square miles.

Interim City Manager Gene Kniffin was out of the office Thursday and could not be reached for comment.

Amber Smith can be reached at amber.smith@theledger.com or at 863-422-6800.