THE WRITER IS shocked THAT THE COUNTY IN ITS DISCRETION COULD NOT COMMUNICATE WITH THE WSFR AND DENY PAYMENT

As you are aware, although the White Springs Fire Rescue responded to all calls for which they were dispatched, Hamilton County has refused to provide the $2,500 per quarter nor the prorated amount up to a total $7,500 per quarter because WSFR did not comply with some of the requirements of the contract entered into with Hamilton County. 

What is interesting is that the agreement with Hamilton County did not use the word “SHALL” BUT RATHER THE WORD “COULD”  i.e. Failure to comply with terms of this agreement could result in non-payment for quarter(s) found deficient.  This means that in my opinion it  is the county which decided they would not pay WSFR for any of their services when the word “could” may be discretionary.

I cannot understand why the council since November 2019 could not have communicated with Hamilton County (we didn’t expect anything from our former manager who was incompetent) so WSFR could have received the funds they felt necessary.  Even our former Town Attorney could not communicate with Hamilton County to determine what the problem was for over one year.  That is unbelievable!   It took our Interim Town Manager Vanessa George to get to the crux of the problem and although our Fire Chief took blame, it was not exactly his, because our former Town Manager would not allow anyone to do anything in which he felt was his job as Manager.

WHAT IS BOTHERSOME TO ME IS THE COUNTY KNOWING THAT THE WSFR WAS RESPONDING TO EACH AND EVERY CALL TO WHICH THEY WERE DISPATCHED AND NEVER ONCE DID HENRY LAND OR  ANY OF THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS CONTACT KEVIN PITTMAN OUR FIRE CHIEF THAT THE DEPARTMENT WAS NOT IN COMPLIANCE.  CAN THERE BE NO COMMUNICATIONS BETWEEN HAMILTON COUNTY AND THE WHITE SPRINGS FIRE DEPARTMENTS?  IN OTHER WORDS, ARE WE THE ENEMY WHERE YOU WILL REFUSE PAYING FOR WHAT SERVICES WERE PROVIDED EVEN THOUGH IN THE PAST, THE TOWN WAS PAID $17,000 WITH NO QUESTIONS ASKED.

IT IS ALSO SURPRISING BUT BEFORE NOVEMBER WHEN WE HAD FIRE ENGINE PROBLEMS ONE OF THE COMMISSIONERS STATED IF WE HAD PROBLEMS WE COULD JUST ASK HAMILTON COUNTY FOR HELP. BUT OF COURSE THAT WAS BEFORE THEN MAYOR SPENCER LOFTON TREATED THE COUNTY LIKE DIRT WITH THE AMENDED CONTRACT WHICH WAS WORKED OUT AT THE BEHEST OF RHETT BULLARD.

WHITE SPRINGS IS RID OF THESE PRIOR PEOPLE AND WE HAVE A WONDERFUL COUNCIL AND INTERIM TOWN MANAGER WHO I, KARIN, HOPES WILL BE OUR MANAGER FOR YEARS.  IT DOESN’T HOLD WELL WITH ME KNOWING OUR DEPARTMENT WORKED SO HARD FOR OVER A YEAR, WITH HAMILTON COUNTY EITHER NOT TELLING THEM OF THE COMPLIANCE OR HAMILTON COUNTY ELECTING TO USE ITS DISCRETION TO PUNISH OUR FIREFIGHTERS.  ONE MUST ASK, WHY DOES THE COUNTY HAVE A GRUDGE AGAINST US NOT TO HAVE THE ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE WITH OUR WSFR?

 These were the terms of the contract which required compliance:

  1. TOWN AGREES TO:
  2. Administer and use all funds provided to it by the County in providing the emergency services described herein.
  3. Expend all funds received under this agreement solely for the purposes of providing emergency services described herein.
  4. For a period of three (3) years from the execution hereof, to retain and make available to the County, upon request, all financial records and supporting documents regarding the use and expenditure of funds received from County under this agreement.
  5. Subject to the terms of this agreement, the Town shall provide initial services in the fire protection area and shall dispatch equipment and firefighters as promptly as possible to answer calls for assistance but not limited to fire suppression, rescue, and emergency services.
  6. The Town shall be responsible for providing the initial response to calls for service within the fire protection area of the County practicable and in accordance with the priorities for first response as determined by the Hamilton County Fire Coordinator.
  7. The payments made to the Town under this agreement shall be accepted by the Town as full compensation for all services furnished under this agreement.
  8. Use adequate fiscal authority, control and accounting procedures which will assure proper disbursement of, and accounting for, the funds received under this agreement, and otherwise maintain complete financial records for all matters relating to this agreement and retain those records for the period as provided herein.
  9. The Hamilton County Communications staff shall notify the Town each time services are needed by the Fire Department. At no time should the Fire Department self-dispatch.
  10. One (1) appropriately trained responder from “Town” must respond to all calls of service.For calls involving Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH) atmospherestwo (2) Certified Firefighters must respond in the initial call for credit as a response. A Certified Firefighter is an individual who holds a current and valid Firefighter Certificate of Completion issued by the Division of State Fire Marshal under s. 633.408, Florida Statutes. When Four (4) certified firefighters are required under state law, “Town” will request additional firefighters from another Department.
  11. Anyone not certified as a Volunteer Firefighter must be at a minimum Support Personnel.Support Personnel are Volunteers that have received training to perform fire service activities safely outside the hot zone of an emergency scene, including pulling hoses, opening and closing fire hydrants, driving and operating apparatus, carrying tools, carrying or moving equipment, directing traffic, manning a resource pool or similar activities. Hot or IDLH Zone is the area immediately around an incident where serious threat of harm exists, which includes, but not limited to the collapse zone of a structure fire. Support personnel will not utilize bunker gear. Impersonating a Firefighter is a third degree felony.
  12. For the services provided under the terms of this agreement, County shall pay Town a percentage based on the total amount of calls answered versus total calls for service provided the following is met:
  13. National Fire Incident Reporting Systems (NFIRS)
  • Reports must be completed in the Emergency Reporting System no later than the 15″ of the following month of the quarter.
  • The NFIRS report must be complete include the named personnel and apparatus that responded along with a complete narrative.
  1. .All certifications and training must be kept current and uploaded into Emergency Reporting.
  2. Fifty percent (50%) of active firefighters must attend monthly county training.

Reserve firefighters must only attend quarterly training. A training schedule for each quarter will be provided.

  1. Town shall utilize the Emergency Reporting software as its official site of record for all personnel, apparatus, and equipment.
  2. Conform with all Hamilton County Standard Operating Guidelines where applicable.
  • Non-conformance of the SOG may result in no payment for the quarter owed. Should this occur the Town Manager and Fire Chief will receive a written explanation.
  1. f. The Fire Coordinator must have on file the following The Town must have the following data” where applicable” uploaded into the Emergency Reporting System for each member of department:
  • Complete Hamilton County Volunteer Fire Application
  • Successful FDLE criminal background check
  • Copy of Driver’s License and complete driving history
  • Annual medical physical (DFS-K4-1022)
  • Annual fit test
  • Firefighter I State Certificate of Compliance
  • National Incident Management Systems (NIMS); ICS 100 and ICS 700
  • Wildland Fire Training $130 and 5190
  • Emergency Medical Responder
  • Current CPR/AED certification
  1. Local State of Emergency: When calls of service are requested for opening and/or closing roads, each event is considered one call. Must be completed on NFIRS.
  1. Calls for service and then cancelled en-route must be recorded on NFIRS.
  2. When the Town responds to calls in their Fire Protection Area of the County, they are responsible for notifying the appropriate agency if the situation requires such, i.e., Fire Marshall, Division of Forestry, etc.
  3. Calls for service with an alarm to arrival time greater than twenty-five (25) minutes shall constitute a non-response.
  4. Perform all acts in connection with this agreement in strict conformity with all applicable State laws and County ordinances and regulations within the capabilities of the Town,
  5. Failure to comply with terms of this agreement could result in non-payment for quarter(s) found deficient.

18.  For the duration that the County desires to staff EMS in White Springs, County may use Town’s Fire Station free of charge