Fla. Fire Protection Deal Scrutinized

ORANGE CITY, Fla. -- There are growing concerns about the new fire protection deal that has the Orange City Fire Department covering the city of DeBary. Orange City's two fire stations look after 9,000 people, but DeBary's...


ORANGE CITY, Fla. --

There are growing concerns about the new fire protection deal that has the Orange City Fire Department covering the city of DeBary.

Orange City's two fire stations look after 9,000 people, but DeBary's nearly double that size and some residents are worried they're too far away to be protected.

For the last 24 days, Orange City has been taking care of medic and fire services in DeBary. Volusia County had the job originally.

"The city of Orange City staff is actually stationed in our office," DeBary City Manager Kassandra Blissett said.

"We offer a first rate service and we save their citizens some money," said Chester Murray, city manager for Orange City.

The county charged the city more than $1 million per year. So DeBary will save about $200,000 yearly. Saving money is one thing, but one concerned resident named Norm says saving lives is another.

"I don't know if Orange City can make it in their own town. They've had problems there," Norm said.

Orange City has 14 career firefighters and 30 dedicated volunteers working at two stations for all 9,000 of its residents. DeBary is an extra 18,000 people added to its workload. So it hired nine new crew members.

Volusia County had three firefighters on the clock at all times at the DeBary station to keep up the same level of service. Orange City is doing the same thing.

Many wonder what would happen if the only crew stationed in DeBary is on a call.

"I think they'll make it, but I don't think it'll be in time," Norm said.

Orange City's Station 68 is closer to Debary than Volusia County's Station 31 and according to run times, Orange City's average time to DeBary is three and a half minutes. The county's is closer to 8 minutes.

Orange City feels it is more than prepared for the job. So far, Orange City hasn't had to respond to the south end of DeBary, but feels those times show it's ready.

Well be more than ready to respond to the south end of DeBary with those times, Murray said.

Fire officials also said if the DeBary crew is busy with an emergency, a backup unit will be sent to the area for safety. And if needed, the city of Deltona will also lend a hand.

Copyright 2009 by wftv.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.