Levy fire departments on new radios now

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By Jeff M. Hardison

As of Feb. 28, all 14 fire departments in Levy County are on the new radio system, according to information released at the March 4 County Commission meeting.

Now that the radios are being used, a monthly fee begins. The provider, Williams Communication, is waiving the fee until April.

Dick Tummond, assistant to the county coordinator, requested $12,264 from the county to pay the monthly per-unit fee for 143 radios for the months of April through September. Commissioners voted 4-0 to authorize the payment, which pays the fee through the end of the current fiscal year.

Commissioner Lilly Rooks was absent from the March 4 meeting.

Commissioner Nancy Bell said for the next fiscal year she wants to see the fire departments absorb this fee into their budgets. The county helps each fire department.

Since this was the first year of using the new radios, there was a lack of clarity about who pays the user fees.

Commission Chairman Sammy Yearty said he agreed with Bell and that he would like to see one invoice from service provider rather than separate bills for each department.

County Coordinator Freddie Moody said there is some consideration of a merge of the Bronson Fire Department and the Otter Creek Fire Department. A couple of other departments in the county work very closely with each other already.

Chiefland Fire Rescue helps with the operations of the Fowlers Bluff Fire Department, according to Chiefland Fire Chief John Ward. The volunteers of Fowlers Bluff continue working with the Chiefland crew to provide service there. Mutual aid with all departments in the county is active as well.