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Flagler Beach’s Opposition to Fire Department Consolidation Costing Taxpayers $200K a Year

| May 4, 2013

On a limb. (© FlaglerLive)

On a limb. (© FlaglerLive)

By Rick Belhumeur

One of the biggest things that makes Flagler Beach unique is its resistance to change. In a lot of cases that is a positive thing that attracts residents to the city. However, when it comes to the city’s fire department, that resistance is costing the taxpayers of Flagler Beach hundreds of thousands of dollars a year while denying residents and visitors better service that could be provided by consolidating the Flagler Beach Fire Department with Flagler County Fire Rescue.

Rick Belhumeur

Rick Belhumeur

Last year after Flagler Beach City Manager Bruce Campbell asked for cost saving ideas, I wondered if consolidating resources with the county could save the City money. I shared my thoughts with Campbell and he told me that maybe I could learn more by contacting Craig Coffey, the county administrator, which I did.

I quickly learned that merging the fire departments is not a new idea. During that conversation with Coffey, I was told that Flagler Beach could realize an annual saving of over $200,000 by joining forces with Flagler County Fire Rescue. This concept was brought to the Flagler Beach City Commission for consideration several years ago only to be met with opposition from residents, some of whom apparently picketed the commission chambers before and during its meeting.


I shared what I learned with Campbell, who seemed receptive to exploring this option to help save the city money. Several times over the next four months it was suggested by the Flagler Beach Staff to avoid bringing this subject up at commission meetings. The staff’s position was that it would be in the city’s best interest not to raise the subject until after the investigation into allegedly improper actions by then-Fire Chief Martin Roberts and several firefighters was complete.

After the investigation was complete and the firefighters were fired, it was again suggested to postpone any comments until after their appeals were over. Yet when Flagler Beach City Commissioner Kim Carney requested a discussion on this matter, the city once again decided that this issue wasn’t important enough to discuss. The city manager removed it from the agenda of the April 25 commission meeting.

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Flagler Beach taxpayers are entitled to contribute ideas that would help services be run more efficiently. Why is the city resisting a dialogue with the public on such an important matter that directly affects public safety and tax bills?

The County already has two full time Firefighter-Paramedics assigned to Flagler Beach, sharing space with the Flagler Beach Fire Department in a station owned by the city. These county employees respond side by side with the city’s firefighters to fire calls and emergency medical services calls (EMS). The Flagler Beach Fire Department not only responds to emergencies within the city but also beyond its borders.

At least 90 percent of all responses by the city’s fire department are for Emergency Medical Services, not fires. And when there is a fire in Flagler Beach, the county responds. Why then is the city paying big bucks for a fire chief and an assistant? With the county in charge, the city would have a fully staffed fire department, firefighters themselves would be better off with higher pay, better benefits (including pension) and the opportunity for advancement within a much larger fire department.

The city is already struggling to keep up with the out-of-control pension costs. The city is begging others for help with the cost of Pier repairs. The city commission voted to save a relatively tiny amount of money by changing how its meetings are broadcast but won’t discuss saving over 200 thousand dollars.

The city (residents included) needs to get its head out of the sand and quit ignoring the reality that the Flagler Beach Fire Department has issues. Equipping and maintaining a modern fire department is expensive. The Flagler Beach Fire Department needs to be upgraded to the 21st century, and a city of 4,500 residents can’t afford to do that. The City Commission has a responsibility to the Citizens of Flagler Beach to at least discuss what they ask for, especially cost saving measures large enough to affect tax bills.

If the Flagler Beach Fire Department were boarded up tomorrow, guess who would put fires out in Flagler Beach? The county would. And at a much lower price and with better service than it costs the city to run its own, Flagler Beach can keep a modern Fire Department in town.

Rick Belhumeur is a Flagler Beach property owner.

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32 Responses for “Flagler Beach’s Opposition to Fire Department Consolidation Costing Taxpayers $200K a Year”

  1. Popo3984 says:

    This is very misleading as a city department knows the needs of the city and is more personel with its citizens and the argument about AlLS being better maybe you should look at some case study which shows there was no increase for a persons survival from ALS care compared to BLS care and rember bigger is not always better sure it might cheaper for the first year but rember what the sheriffs office did to palm coast with its contract sure it was cheaper then starting its own PD the first year but look at the contract now it keeps going up every year. The citizens have spoken before and kept there FD and hope they still feel this way now as the county taking over would be a big mistake…..

  2. FB Insider says:

    I wonder what they are going to do when, and/or if “Acting Chief” Pace is formally charged by the State Attorney’s Office for the misdemeanor “obstruct officer without violence” and felony “tampering with physical evidence”. Who is going to run the department? Or is Campbell going to continue to keep him on the job like has so far? (while the charges are pending)

  3. Bill Hazz says:

    I see no reason why this discussion is not addressed properly by the City Commission. I don’t know that i am for the County taking over the FD, but I would definitely like to see the numbers and the comments this would bring about.

    I think Bruce has done a commendable job given the hostility from the Commission that reluctantly voted him into the job position. But I don’t understand the avoidance of this issue. I look forward to attending this session in the relatively near future.

    What do you have to lose, Bruce?

  4. David R Campbell says:

    WOW!
    If one should remove Rick’s name from this article one would swear that Pierre was responsible for it. :)
    Good show. Rick! This is a very well thought-out proposition, proving once again that there are intelligent people from regular walks of life who are paying attention and caring about their communities. Stay the course! ()
    @ Popo I understand your concerns, but I wonder if you are honestly looking at the entire situation. Based on everything I have read over the last several years, I have to go with Rick, even though I don’t live in Flagler Beach.

    • Pierre Tristam says:

      David, my only responsibility as the editor of this site was to solicit the column and edit it. Very little editing was necessary: Mr. Belhumeur–whose well-tempered name I’m especially pleased to see by-lined here–is a fine and persuasive writer, though I’d be glad to run an equally well written and persuasive piece from the opposite point of view, if someone could write it at a more graceful level than the noise and fury of the comment section, and would be just as good enough to put his or her name, and image, to the piece. I’m sure our readers are well aware that running an author’s column isn’t an endorsement of that author’s point of view (necessarily). The point is to encourage a relevant discussion, whatever its perspective, as long as it’s well written and supported.

  5. confidential says:

    Totally agree w/PoPo.
    Though there is a marked difference regarding the City of Palm Coast not affording yet its own police department and the reason is…would be much higher cost that what we pay the Sheriff as the City has the largest amount of residents to be covered by law enforcement in this county. Even when the scarce population of unincorporated areas of the county are much larger in square miles than the City of Palm Coast. If we create our own PC police department we will be paying twice for law enforcement, because the county won’t let go off those funds we, the largest tax base contributors in this county, already pay now to them.
    To the contrary Flagler Beach has only 4,500 residents and less mileage to cover and already had its own Fire Department for decades…why to change it now just because few on its personnel were caught wrong doing? Hire the right firemen/women have city officials monitoring their performance, pay attention to citizens approval or disapprovals of their work and keep your Flagler Beach Fire Department under city control, “you are better off now with a FBFD fish on the reel than many loose on trouble waters”

  6. fla native says:

    If the city of drama keeps electing kooks it’s going to continue to get the results it’s been getting. CLEAN HOUSE AT CITY HALL!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Dear Mr. Belhumeur: let me correct you on your misleading leading facts. Yes in the beginning you might possibly save the city 200,000 a year but in the long run it will end up costing the city more money. And for you to to think the city would be better prepared with AlS? Everyone working on staff at Flagler beach fire dept are emt firefighters and some are paramedics. Even most of the volunteers are all certified. Second if you were to consolidate the dept to the county let me remind you they would have to hire a additional 9 employees pay them as firefighter paramedics and equip the truck with AlS supplies. How would it make sense to join the county? Of course any county member will tell you what sounds good but in the end the city ends up paying more. And for you to say the city isn’t well protected it is and the fire dept is under medical direction now and yes they can do more then just sit and watch till the ambulance gets their they are all CPR certified as well. Ask any other city that has let the county take over their dept. they will tell you it ends up costing more in the long run.

    • Rick Belhumeur says:

      To: Anonymous> Where in that article did I say anything about ALS, Certifications or that the City wasn’t protected? Don’t confuse the subject… I was talking about money and a lot of it. Every year it costs the city more. Flagler Beach does not have the resources to keep up with rising pensions and 21st century Fire Rescue standards. Two Hundred Thousand dollars is a very conservative estimate and that does not include the Fifty Thousand dollars the City puts away Each year for new equipment. At that rate it will be able to get a new engine sometime in the next decade.

  8. The Professor says:

    Rick, where did you get these numbers? Lets educate yourself on this matter. The city WILL NOT save 200k the county will make the current station,employees, and equipment to there need which will COST the city. What happens in 3 years when the contract is over and the county wants to charge twice as much from the initial contract? They will say sign or buy your department back. Which will COST the city. The city has a department to COVER the city. If it were county they will move those trucks out of the city giving you no coverage! Don’t believe me? They already do it with there ambulance transports to Jacksonville ect. The department is under new management and is headed in the right direction with if not better service than the county. Trust me the county has enough issues of its own, they just know how to cover them up.

    • educated says:

      @ Anonymous- You phrase it right, under medical direction NOW….. And yes the city would be better off w/ ALS providers being the first responders you cant dispute that, its a higher level of care! And everyone being certified and even some of them being paramedics is irrelevant, what can you do with BLS equipment? And thats a comforting thought that they can do more than watch until the ambulance gets there, you directly follow that by saying they are all CPR certified. Guess we can all breathe a sigh of relief, after you watch me die then you can help. You got my vote! And PEOFESSOR, apparently you need some educating as well… Flagler County doesnt send an engine to Jacksonville, they are a transport department which sometimes means transporting long distances w/ their ambulance/rescues. Thats the advantage to them staffing an engine their, even when the rescue is gone you still recieve ALS care. So youre statement about no coverage is wrong, its wrong as things are now, you could just be recieving a higher level of care.

  9. RG says:

    The citizens of Flagler beach have an opportunity to improve their fire and emergency response. Although Fagler county fire responds for mutual and or automatic aid depending on the ongoing agreements there is no guarantee during extreme situations that they will be delayed and or non existent when needed. Example hurricanes, and disasters. Considering property values and distances property owners may see savings on insurance policies due to how they rate their insurance fees when fire protection is more adequately assured.

    Flagler FD has an aging Ladder truck that wiil need to be replaced now if not in very near future $$$$$$. A professional dept wiil guarantee all your needs without the law suits, personal problems, and equipment station ongoing issues. I think its a no brainer. The more contributors to the county fire protection district the stronger the dept and the better job they wiil do for all of us. Residents and visitors. Think how much better a proffessional dept will be ask what more they may offer you may be surprised.

  10. Some guy says:

    Popo, the study you are speaking of was only for patients in cardiac arrest. These patients are dead. In this case bls goes a long way. The beach will not do a 12 lead EKG, diangose a heart attack and activate a cath team. These patients will bypass the ER and go straight to intervention. The bls department can not treat COPD, CHF, severe trauma or any number of medical emergencies. I do not expect the title popo to know medicine but I find it troublesome that you are posting half truths. It is more than just medicine just talk to any firefighter who has ran a fire with the beach. I am a county firefighter and my stomach drops every time I am called to fight a fire with the beach. For my family, friends, public and me please end this foolishness.

  11. Just Sayin" says:

    I notice most detractors of the idea of consolidation deal only in “what-ifs” and “the county might…” Let’s deal in realities:
    **The citizens currently pay 2 taxes for care they could receive with one…
    **The EMS units rotate to cover the needs of all of the citizens, leaving two paid firefighters with the absolute bare minimum in equipment behind to protect the city. Yes, I realize the volunteers help out as well, but let’s be honest here…half of those volunteers do not have all of their certifications and can only act in a VERY minimal role…consolidation would mean our city would ALWAYS have the highest level of medical protection at their disposal.
    **I am not sure where the number of “9 new firefighters would be needed” comes from…the county has “float” positions that could instantly be added, allowing for the Beach to go from 2 full timers to 3 on the engine…the most you would need to hire is 5-6 to replace those floats. The two who are currently state certified paramedics, plus any current FB employees willing to become paramedics…worst case is 2 stay, 4 leave, and the county would have to hire 7…
    **keeping the department independent because they “understand the needs of the citizens” is RIDICULOUS…the responsibility of the department is to provide the best care possible to protect the lives and property of our citizens…to assume county employees would not be able to get a handle on the needs of the citizens is to assume they are too stupid to do their jobs…

    This is a no brainer, folks…when it all boils down to it, who do you want taking care of your mom when she is having a heart attack, when early advanced (ALS) care is so critical…do you want paramedics, who are trained to a MUCH higher level, or two part time volunteers who may have little to no experience and two EMT’s who, while they may do a fine job, just don’t have the same capabilities…

    Those are the facts, like it or not…

  12. Steve C E-11 says:

    Some guy… If you have a problem fighting fire with my department please address this to me in person because I gaurantee you won’t. Last time I checked we haven’t lost one house on my shift. It’s hard to believe you are such a seasoned vet fighting fire when you’ve been on the Rescue your entire career. Your stomach probably drops any time you get dispatched to a fire regardless what part of the county it’s in. Stay on the west side and send some real firefighters to lay a line for us.

  13. Just Sayin... says:

    Come on people, get off your high horse and wake up!! This shouldn’t be about keeping your precious city fire department. If it could afford to provide proper medical care to the residents and visitors we wouldn’t even be discussing this. But it can’t!!! Right now the firefighters/EMT/Paramedics that work/volunteer for the city and come to your medical emergency can only offer BLS care, which means they can basically hold your hand, bandage a cut, and perform basic CPR while you wait for a county ambulance. Yes there is one stationed at the beach but unfortunately it is a transportation rotation and could be out of city or even county limits for that matter leaving you to wait for the ambulance from the airport or the hammock provided they aren’t on a call already. With a county merger the engines would be able to treat ALS calls and can do everything that the ambulance can do except drive you to the hospital. So instead of holding your hand the firefighters on the engine could be saving your life while waiting for an ambulance. It’s a simple choice people. Is it really worth the safety of your family and friends to keep your small town city fire department?!? The next meeting is Thursday, please go and ask questions. I want my family and friends to have the best medical care when visiting Flagler Beach.

  14. Diego Miller says:

    Great essay Rick. You nailed it.

  15. Dk says:

    Some guy I have had more fires than the majority of your department. Saved structures and property. Have never had and problems with the county employees or complaints on my work ethics or performances on the job. But I don’t get on here and point out your bad apples. Because the county has some “hefty” apples.

  16. r&r says:

    If you give up the department you’ll have to find somewhere to party..

  17. Earl says:

    It’s easy to compare the big bad county to a city department like FB or PC. But compare them to Volusia, St. John’s, or other counties.. They can’t hang. Geez they have to call St Johns for Hazmat. Flagler County is Wayy behind the 8 ball. A fire department with more rescues than fire trucks?? Palm Coast won’t even let them fight fire. If anything PC should take over!

  18. FB Insider says:

    To insult the FCFR by saying ” send some real firefighters to lay a line for us” and “Because the county has some “hefty” apples” is not only insulting buy condescending. “Dk” makes the statement “I have had more fires than the majority of your department”. Well, as my name states as an “Insider” I can tell you that if “Dk” in fact IS David Kennedy, this is entirely not true. As for “Steve C E-11”, I specifically remember a trailer ACROSS THE STREET FROM YOUR STATION that was a total loss. Now, one can arguable say a trailer is an instant loss when on fire, but from people that were there that day and my own personal knowledge, there was A LOT of room for improvement.

  19. Rick Belhumeur says:

    Pierre was right about some of the responses in this comment section. I was hoping to learn a few things from differing points of view but some of you guys come across like a bunch of bickering school children. Just another reason that consolidation makes sense… No more of this self-indulgent “We’re better than you are”. I would think that EVERY Firefighter should have a COMMON primary goal… to protect the lives and property of ALL the citizens.

  20. FlaglerRes.. says:

    I have been in the fire service in Flagler County of over 20 years. This shouldnt be about yours or mine. Its about peoples lives, and one simple question. Do you want EMTs or Paramedics coming to your house. Thats it. It isnt about who is better or who has the better stuff. It about LIVES. Mine, yours, everyones. Its sad that people in this day in age are so caught up in the petty stuff and not the big picture. Anyone from the Flagler Beach fire dept. who says you are getting better care now, doesnt have your best interests at hand. ALS is always better then BLS.

  21. The Professor says:

    Rick you still have not proved yourself or showed any evidence on saving $200,000. Where are the numbers to back this up???? Have you even been to that station in Flagler Beach to see how they operate??@ Pierre why don’t you make this ” debate” fair and write another article on keeping the Flagler Beach Fire Department?

  22. Just Sayin" says:

    Rick…you couldn’t be more spot on. Thanks, again, for writing a concise, well thought out commentary. I, too, am saddened to see the total lack of class and maturity demonstrated by a few people from both sides here on this public forum. I would think a department that is trying to defend their ability to stand on their own would not want their own employees not only bristling like a school yard bully, but using his name and representing his fellow workers in such a negative light. Just another example as to why that place seems to need more supervision

    • curious says:

      @Professor- The problem here is there isnt a logical reason to keep the Flagler Beach fire dept… To attempt to come up with a debate as to why you should keep a lower standard rather than raising it for the same price is never a good fight!!

  23. Dk says:

    I am sorry if people read FLaglerlive and feel like we are bickering. I don’t appriciate when people type out lies about my job and how I work because I take my career very serious. Many people on here are afraid to say who they really are because they are ex employees or county employees who are afraid to show themselves. I put in many many extra hours to make myself and educate myself to be the best firefighter I can be. I have stated before if you have any questions about the department, my qualifications, or past fires please come ask me. I have tried to post FACTS on here before to clarify people but not everything a person writes on here is submitted. Our department is the best it has every been. In the past there has been serious issues and basic regulations that were overlooked. That doesn’t happen now. Also we are all for making our engine als. It will not happen overnight but it is in the works. I can say we have saved many lives with bls waiting on a transport unit. Again I stress. If anyone has any questions by all means come ask instead of getting your information from a comment post.

    • FB Insider says:

      Mr. “Dk”,

      I think it is almost comical that you have the nerve to get on here and state that people are “afraid” to state who they are because they are either ex employees and/or county employees. Did it ever occur to you that other agencies read this? The public too? I guess not, because based on their feedback on you and S. Cox’s posts it showed the complete lack of tact and professionalism one would expect from an agency and it’s members when under public scrutiny. Anyways, moving on.

      I for one would like to know how the department is “the best it has every been”. You are being led by an “Acting Chief” with 7 years total in the fire service. Most people don’t make Lieutenant that quickly, mainly due to lack of experience. In addition to that, your City fired a 20+ year veteran who had more experience himself than the entire current department combined, in addition to an another 6 year employee. In addition to that, a Fire Chief with over 40 years in the service. So again, explain to me how the department is better now? Right now, it is a department led by an inexperience Chief with inexperienced firefighters; most of whom have less than 5 years on the job (all but one – S. Cox).

      Oh, one more question. You state “I put in many many extra hours to make myself and educate myself to be the best firefighter I can be”. I remember, and I am assuming you ARE David Kennedy, that during the big fiasco that went on in December that you were the “firefighter in charge” the evening the Chief was accused of drinking and responding. If you put such great effort into being the best firefighter you can be, why did you fail to notify any law enforcement on scene that evening, of the possible intoxication of the Fire Chief and the operator of the Tower truck? I would imagine if you want to be the best you can be, that would include making sure your fellow brothers and sisters, as well as the public, are safe. Your failure to do that in my mind raises some serious questions.

      Now, lastly Pierre you can verify the truth to this:

      Total Combined O.T.J. experience between the 6 paid firefighters currently employed with the FBFD = 14 YEARS. Divide that amongst the 6 members and you have = 2.3 years of experience average per shift. This is what protects the City.

      For “Dk” some facts:

      Cox – 8 years 5 months Certified Firefighter. In that time frame he has a total on-the-job experience of 7 years of experience. He has 2 years 11 months w/ FBFD.

      Desantoli – 1 year 3 months Certified Firefighter. Has a total experience of 1 year 8 months between volunteer and now career.

      Kennedy – 5 years 2 month Certified Firefighter. Total on-the-job experience of 3 years 10 months..

      Snyder – 4 years Certified Firefighter. Total on-the-job experience of 2 years 5 months.

      Thomas – 4 years 1 month Certified Firefighter. Total on-the-job experience of 3 years 2 months.

      Walden – 8 months Certified Firefighter. Total on-the-job experience 9 months.

      All public record. Mr. “Dk”, I HAVE done my research and can back up every one of my posts; however unlike yourself I refuse to put my employer in a bad light be representing myself in an unprofessional manner.

      Regards,
      FB Insider

  24. Retired Jax Firefighter says:

    If ALS is such a big deal why does Flagler County pull the ALS rescue to leave a BLS dept for Palm Coast coverage which has ALS enigines there?? I spoke with the “an insider” at Flagler Beach and heard they were in the process of making E-11 ALS anyway. These types of articles tear neighboring fire depts apart. I am not fond of Flaglerlive posting such articles especially from a “joe shmo” on the street who has no experience in the fire service or statistical numbers to back it up.

    “We do the same job, just wear different shirts ” – Battalion Chief O’Rielly FDNY

    • Rick Belhumeur says:

      Retired Jax Firefighter > I’m not any more a “joe shmo” than you are and I have more numbers than you may think I do in which involve DOLLARS. I have “experience” paying six tax bills for properties in Flagler Beach. This is about a small City with a limited amount of revenue supporting a Fire Department using 21st century standards. I have not said anything about ALS vs BLS or that any one Fire Department was better than another. Get your facts right before you make accusations.

    • FB Insider says:

      Let me address something about E-11 going ALS.

      Most of the public doesn’t know this, but to practice as an EMT or Paramedic in the State of Florida, you must be under the medical direction of a physician. This physician essentially assumes some degree of liability and allows the personnel to basically work under his/her license. While doing this, protocols are established and approved and all under the direction must abide by those.

      Until last year, FBFD was WITHOUT medical direction for some time. There were many reasons for this, but it ultimately got worked out. Currently, FBFD is at BLS level. The FBFD EMPLOYS two members who are Florida Paramedics; the rest EMT-B’s. These Paramedics can only function at BLS level because that’s the level of medical direction provided. Now, let’s clarify some more areas that haven’t been addressed:

      1.) Narcotics are EXPENSIVE and most have expiration dates. Whether used or not, have to be discarded after a period of time.
      2.) Some have to be refrigerated. This requires additional equipment installed in the trucks.
      3.) These trucks now have to be more thoroughly secured due to there being narcotics on board.
      4.) Due to more advanced airway techniques administered by Paramedics, more advanced expensive airway equipment would need to be purchased.
      5.) LifePak or similar cardiac monitor(s) would need to be purchased, at a cost typically exceeding $12,000 each, One would be required for each truck that the FBFD wants to “ALS”, not jump from truck to truck. The minute one piece of equipment that is ALS and required is removed, the unit becomes BLS.
      6.) Annual CEU (Continuing Education Units) requirements increase, as do costs. In addition, classes such as PALS and ACLS are requires, costing more money.

      The FBFD simply cannot afford to go ALS. With a 6-member PAID department, the costs would be astronomical. Again, it’s easy to say “we’re working on it” but as I recall, they have also been trying for years to make the engine 3-man and replace a 17 year old engine. It’s nice to have goals, but let’s keep them in reach.

      Oh, and one more thing for “Retired Jax Firefighter”. You mention “These types of articles tear neighboring fire depts apart.” I disagree. It’s comments from Kennedy and Cox such as “Because the county has some “hefty” apples” and “our stomach probably drops any time you get dispatched to a fire regardless what part of the county it’s in. Stay on the west side and send some real firefighters to lay a line for us.” Comments like THOSE tear neighboring fire depts apart.

  25. Anonymous says:

    @someguy, just because you work for the county doesn’t make you any better of a firefighter then the men and women with Flagler beach, bunnel, or palm coast. Everyone is trained as firefighters and goes through the same training except the paramedics. But in the end everyone has the same job to do. And not everyone with Flagler county are all Firefighter/ Paramedics either. I feel the men and women who work for Flagler beach have been doing a fenomenal job with their dept and the changes they have been making with their new acting chief. And with the whole artical about it talking about saving the city &200,000 a year if they joined the county I don’t believe it I would have to see numbers first. If anybody went to the Flagler beachs open house Monday night they would have seen the dept has been working on saving the city money and has already saved them about $20,000 just for researching grants and writing for them. But Flaglerlive fails to talk about the changes that have been made since January. Like DK says if people wanna know the facts the. Go by the Flagler Beach fire dept and talk to them. Keep up the awesome work Flagler Beach and their new acting chief has done a great job!!! I support the Flagler Beach Fire dept! And if I can recall those men and women have put out some of the counties fires also!! It would be nice for flaglerlive to post a positive artical about the fire dept on all the new changes that have been made!

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