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Firefighters in Marianna express concerns over combining fire stations

Posted at 6:21 PM, Jan 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-23 20:48:43-05

JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) — Marianna firefighters are fighting a different kind of battle.

They want to keep their fire house. But city leaders say the move is necessary to save money.

The city wants to combine fire houses and get rid of one. Some firefighters are not on board, saying it puts families in danger.

"The citizens come first. Their safety comes first," said Jeremy O'Bryan.

Jeremy O'Bryan is the Marianna Professional Firefighters Union President. He says getting rid of station sixteen is asking for trouble.

"If the train gets stalled, we're kind of cut off from this part of the city to go to one end, go through an overpass to come back," said O'Bryan.

O'Bryan says this station also responds to about 40 percent of calls in the city. He says combining the two could be seen as a waste of resources.

"It's not a good idea," O'Bryan asserted. "You're taking money from the citizens we have a fire assessment fee that the citizens pay and that's supposed to enhance fire protection and medical protection."

"Our firefighters salaries are lower than some of the other entities than what they've presented to us so our whole process is to try and increase the salaries our firefighters," said Jim Dean, the city manager of Marianna.

Right now, the average firefighter in town makes about $26,000.

Dean says he is not worried about the combining those stations putting people in harm because it's been done before and the amount of people in the area hasn't changed dramatically.

"The city of Marianna has had a population of approximately 6,000 or less and that population has not changed," Dean explained.

"We understand that there's a wage issue but the citizens safety matters and we're willing to do whatever it takes to keep our citizens safe," said O'Bryan.

The proposal will be presented at the Feb. 4 council meeting. From there, it'll go to a vote.