Our volunteer fire department, the South Gulf County Volunteer Fire Department, has been trying for three years now to find a mere one acre piece of land on which to build a fire station to protect the residents of and visitors to the northern section of Cape San Blas. Many of the homes they’re responsible for are as far as 11 and 12 miles from their current station.
The nearest hospital to this community is 65 miles away in Panama City, well over an hour drive. The nearest EMS ambulance is 17 miles away in Port St. Joe. The average response time from the time a 911 call is placed until an ambulance reaches us out here is 25 minutes. Our lives literally depend on our first responder-trained volunteers being able to reach us as quickly as possible to administer whatever help they can. They are incredibly efficient, using fire department records management software to keep track of emergencies and patients, and nothing goes undealt with. Unfortunately, without their own space, their job isn’t easy. The overwhelming majority of the call-outs they respond to, probably more than 90%, are EMS calls, not fires. Emergency planning and response team has been working to the best of their ability, however, we have to realize that there is only so much that we can do.
Our volunteer firefighters are almost all in their 50’s and 60’s and they work many long hours to ensure our safety and they shouldn’t have to have to also struggle this long and hard just to find a small parcel of land on which to build. They have funding available, all they’re in need of is a parcel of land that someone will allow them to purchase to use.
There are two state-owned parks here and neither one of them will let the fire station be built on their land which to me just seems wrong. Rish Park would be ideal, because it is centrally located within the coverage area, and the north-west corner of the road-front land on the bay side of the road is never used anyway.
T.H. Stone Memorial Park has nearly 3000 acres and a station at the southernmost tip of it would not impinge upon the character of the park in any way. These parks belong to the people of the State of Florida, we pay for them with our tax dollars, so it only seems right that if the State’s citizens need to use some of that land in order to protect the general welfare, then those lands should be appropriated.
You can help by writing our elected officials and asking them to please allow the station to be built on State-owned property. If you want to copy and paste the above info please feel free to do so. Every voice counts, so please take a moment and help out. Here are links to the contact info for our area representatives: