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Could saving on taxes cost MC residents safety?

Posted at 11:43 PM, Apr 20, 2016

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. -- Martin County Commissioners are looking to save taxpayers some money.

But, could it cost you your safety?

Some firefighters worry potential cuts to fire services will put public safety at risk.

Martin County, with the City of Stuart, is reviewing a draft report of ways to consolidate fire rescue services. The report was completed by a consultant hired by the county, Fitch & Associates.

The report lists ways that the county could cut costs.

Some recommendations include decreasing staffing at an Indiantown Fire Station, closing a station in Hobe Sound and two in Stuart and reducing paramedic staffing in Jensen Beach.

Other fire stations would be given larger zones to cover.

Martin County Fire Union President, Chad Ciancuilli, says residents should be concerned if the recommendations are accepted.

“If we run any leaner than what we are today, it will be a decrease in the level of service,” Ciancuilli said. “It’s going to have an impact on everybody in the county, no matter where you live.”

He worries response times will be longer, when minutes can be life-saving.

But, a county spokeswoman says the level of service would not be jeopardized if the county implements the recommendations.

She says response times would not exceed 8 minutes, the limit already in place.

She says taxpayers would save $5 million over several years. She says the report helps the county reduce the number of redundancies in how fire stations are currently operating.

Some residents say they’re concerned they’re losing safety with the tax savings.

Claudia Spinelli lives near Fire Station 23 in Martin County, which could be at risk of closing.

Living near the station, she says, may have saved her husband recently. Driving to the fire station was closer than a hospital.

“He drove his self there and they checked him. They see something was very wrong with his heart, they drove him to the hospital, they basically saved his life,” Spinelli said. “We felt so much safer to be close.”

County leaders and fire officials are holding a public meeting to discuss the findings of the report Thursday at 1PM at the Children’s Services Council at 101 SE Central Parkway, Stuart.