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WASTE WATCH: County questions dispatching of Crestview firefighters

CRESTVIEW  --  A County Commissioner is questioning the way the city of Crestview dispatches firefighters.

Commissioner Nathan Boyles says the city could shorten dispatch times and save money by consolidating with the county.

City leaders say it's not that simple.
Laura Hussey: "This is the Okaloosa County 911 Communication Center. Right now every fire department in the county is dispatched fom here, except for the city of Crestview."

Time is everything when a home is burning.
Just ask Shera Gill how important thirty seconds can be.

Shera: "That was pretty much the time frame of my husband saving our car, and me getting the kids out of the house before our house was engulfed."

The Crestview Fire Department has a response time of under five minutes.
But the county's 9-1-1 Chief says trucks could be sent more quickly in some cases.

Calls from cell phones in Crestview are actually routed through county dispatch, before being transferred back to the city.

Daniel Dunlap: "When the call does come in here and we do have to transfer it, there is a potential for delay."

Crestview's Mayor and Fire Chief say they can serve their community best by running their own system, to their standards.

Mayor David Cadle: "A lot of our citizens are concerned about everything being run by the larger government entity."

The cost is about a hundred-fifty thousand dollars a year.
County Commissioner Nathan Boyles says that's significant at a time when the city is discussing a possible fire assessment.

Nathan Boyles: "I'm also a citizen and I own property in Crestview, and so the cost of doing business in Crestview is very important to me."

Mayor Cadle says they've considered consolidating with the county before, but they would have had to spend more than a hundred grand on new radios and they weren't confident in the coverage.

The Crestview City Council will discuss the matter at their meeting Monday night.
Laura Hussey: "Often both a fire crew and an ambulance will respond to a medical call. Right now, all of those EMS crews, the ambulances, are dispatched from here at the 911 center.   

Here's how other counties and cities handle emergency dispatch:

In Escambia County, all 9-1-1 calls go to county dispatch first.
If it's a fire or police call within the city of Pensacola, the call is transfered to city dispatchers.

In Santa Rosa County,   9-1-1 calls made within the city of Gulf Breeze go to city dispatchers.
If it's a medical call, they'll transfer it to the county.
 
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