JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — In the case of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department and the Jacksonville Beach Fire Department, two is not better than one, according to Jacksonville Association of Firefighters President Randy Wyse.
Wyse says over the years, Jacksonville has provided emergency support for neighboring Neptune and Atlantic beaches. The City of Jacksonville Beach is now joining that list.
The name on the building and trucks still read Jacksonville Beach. You won’t see that change until after Oct. 1, and that might be the only change the community notices with the merger.
Minutes matter when you dial 911. The City of Jacksonville has provided rescue support with their ambulance next door to the City of Jacksonville Beach's fire station off 3rd Street.
However, separate departments sometimes meant a delay in getting that rig to where it needed to go.
“Before if somebody called 911, they’d dispatch the Jacksonville Beach fire engine and it took a little while for Jax beach to call Jacksonville to get the rescue to respond," Wyse said.
Jacksonville crews will now man Jacksonville Beach’s two fire stations while operating from one central dispatch.
“We will actually have units from Jacksonville responding more quickly," Wyse said.
Wyse said under the agreement, the Jacksonville Beach Fire Department's 27 members will have the option to continue their work as Jacksonville firefighters. He has already received confirmation from a few.
“We’ve done it a couple of times," Wyse said. "There’s training aspects that you have to deal with, equipment."
All the equipment will remain operational with some training, but that won’t affect any services, according to Wyse.
So what will this cost? The city of Jacksonville Beach owes Jacksonville $2 million in the first year of this 20-year plan. But over those two decades, it could save the City of Jacksonville Beach $15 million.
“There’s pieces to that that you can’t really put a dollar figure on, but I think obviously it will have a great impact to the citizens of Jacksonville Beach and Jacksonville as it relates to one department covering all those areas,” Wyse said.