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Okeechobee considering ending city fire services

Posted at 7:18 PM, Feb 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-18 19:18:20-05

OKEECHOBEE COUNTY, Fla. — Okeechobee city leaders are taking a close look at contracting fire protection with Okeechobee County to replace the city fire department as a way to save money.

“It’s a tough decision to make we're in the exploratory stage,: says Okeechobee Mayor Dowling Watford.

The city is currently waiting on a proposal from Okeechobee County on what it would cost to have county firefighters take over.

The mayor says the current city fire budget is approximately $1.3 million a year.

“There’s more than just money involved, and you have to look at those other factors of course in this case you’re looking at response time,” Watford says.

“I’m very concerned I’m a 14-year firefighter and I could be out of a career,” says Okeechobee firefighter Steve Weeks.

So far, Weeks says, there have been no guarantees that city firefighters would be moved to the county department.

“If this was to transpire 13 personnel will be without careers and there is zero guarantee they’re going to have employment,” Weeks says.