Four Volusia Co. fire stations face closure due to funding

Emergency responders in Volusia County are facing a potential crisis of their own: the looming closure of four fire stations if county commissioners can't find the money to fund them.

It's a problem county leaders have been wrestling with for several years, when a dip in property tax revenues forced them to use savings to cover operating costs for the county's two dozen fire stations. Those savings are about to run dry.

Now, it may come down to a property tax hike to keep those four stations up and running, according to the county website.

Two stations in DeLand, one near Deltona and another in West Volusia, near Ormond Beach, are all on the chopping block.

"We don't want to see taxes raised, but, at the same time, as firefighters we know we can't close four fire stations," Firefighters' Union President Jeff Marris said.

The county is working with the firefighters' union to gauge community reaction to that proposed tax hike, planning a series of community meetings.

Marris told Fox 35, the issue boils down to basic public safety. Fewer stations with less staff could have dangerous consequences for Volusia County residents.

"It will increase response times, so they'll be waiting a lot longer for help," Marris said. "The square mileage will be one-and-a-half times, so that's going to spread us out even thinner. Help will take longer and our back-up help will take longer."

The first community meeting to discuss this issue will be held Tuesday, February 17, at 6 p.m. at the Thomas Kelly Administration Center in DeLand.
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