A retiring district fire chief in Seminole County gave commissioners a surprising retirement speech Tuesday, stating they must build new stations the county needs or face possible losses of life.
Malcom Trigg spent 25 years with Seminole County, and after he was given a plaque and some handshakes, he addressed the Commission about three new fire stations that have been in County plans for 5 years now.
"I urge you to move forward with this necessary fire stations," he told them.
Former Deputy Chief Trigg singled out Station 29 near Oviedo, and mentioned a house fire in Oviedo where two people died and another remains in critical condition.
"Don't know if a closer station would have made a difference, but the response times, particularly in Station 29's area are definitely not up to the standards that I think you would expect."
The response time to that fire was 7 minutes, and 8 until water was put on it. Seminole County Public Safety Director Tad Stone admitted they would like to respond to fire faster than that.
"We prefer a 5 minute response time as an average county wide. We maintain that 5 minute response time county wide."
We asked Director Stone if he believed those people would still be alive if station 29 was up and running?
"I've gone back and reviewed all the call data that's available. Listened to the incoming calls as they came in. There's absolutely no way to determine whether or not that would have been a deciding factor or not. When I listened to the first 3 incoming calls, they already indicate that the fire's already consumed the back portion of the building, so I just can't make that assumption right now."
Director Stone tells FOX 35 that Seminole has to money to build Station 29. they have been socking away money since it was planned in 2008. Stone says the recession has kept them from building it, and the County has even gone back and found a way to save a million dollars on the cost of the station.
"We've been dipping into reserves in the fire fund for the past several years just to maintain the status quo."
Stone says the problem is the more than a million dollars it will take each year to staff that fire station. He does not want to begin construction on the station until there can be firefighters inside.
"We just do not have the revenue available to us to man the station, and it does absolutely nothing for the community if we cannot man the station once we build it."
Public Safety Director Stone says rebounding home values will help accelerate the process and that Station 29 is first on the County's priority list of 3 new stations that are supposed to be built. He refuses to build that station and staff it by moving firefighters from other stations. He tells FOX 35 he will not under staff other stations in the County to get this one built and manned, saying that would only compound the problem.