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Proposed Jacksonville budget: 3 fire stations to close, 1 opens

6:09 PM, Jul 16, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown has submitted his proposed 2013-2014 budget which includes closing libraries, chopping public services and shuttering fire stations.

However, in the midst of cutting back, a new fire station will be opened.

Folks like Bradley Hite remember when a house on their street in the Bartram Park neighborhood went up in flames in 2010. It's one of many neighborhoods off of Race Track Road.

Hite said the firefighters "had to wet the roof of my house because the flames were blowing over onto our home and heating it up."

Jeffrey Sooey lives across the street from the house that burned and shot video of the flames coming from the roof.

"It seemed if [firefighters] had got here five minutes earlier, the house could be salvaged," Sooey said Tuesday.

JFRD said it took 15 minutes to reach the fire. The closest fire station is miles away, across the railroad tracks.

Randy Wyse, president of the Jacksonville Firefighters Association, confirmed for First Coast News that a new fire station will be built on a cleared lot on Bartram Park Boulevard.

"It's a big portion of the city that is really uncovered. Has no protection whatsoever," Wyse said.

While a new fire station opens in the Bartram Park area, three fire stations are on the city of Jacksonville's chopping block. Station 11 on Talleyrand Avenue, Station 12 in St. Nicholas, and Station 14 in Avondale all face closure due to the 14 percent across the board cuts in the mayor's proposed budget.

"I will tell you, the chief would say this is a definite impact to public safety," Wyse said. "It's just trying to live within the budget the mayor gives him or the city council ends up giving him."

The fire department also expects brown outs for engine, ladder or rescue units.

Brown outs mean "On a daily basis, they can shut down companies based on the staffing they have for that day," Wyse explained.

Meanwhile, neighbors near Race Track Road welcome the new fire station within the year.

Hite said, "It makes me a little more comfortable if a fire station will be closer to home."

"Obviously we don't want to rob Peter to pay Paul. I wouldn't want someone else's house to burn down or someone else to be in danger because we're trying to protect our homes," Sooey said.

Want to weigh in on the Mayor's proposed budget? Here's who to contact:

Mayor Alvin Brown

Bill Gulliford, City Council President

Clay Yarborough, City Council Vice President

Greg Anderson, City Council Finance Committee Chair

First Coast News

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