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Fowlers Bluff residents can now feel more secure about fire rescue services in their area, according to county and community officials.
Monday was the first official day of operation for the Levy County Fire Station No. 4, said Levy County Department of Public Safety Director David Knowles in a public meeting Monday at Fowlers Bluff.
The station and its crew of firefighters, formerly known as the Fowlers Bluff Volunteer Fire Department, signed on to merge with the county's fire department several months ago.
Knowles said the area will now benefit from the services of two daytime firefighters from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day of the week—helping to ensure adequate coverage during daytime hours when the department's six volunteers are at their regular jobs.
"We think it's all a win-win situation for everyone involved," said area resident and FBVFD board member Dr. Bob Mount.
Fowlers Bluff, as well as other under-serviced areas in the county such as Rosewood and Morriston, will see improved service, he said.
Merging with the county also enables smaller communities to capitalize on bulk purchases of necessary gear and equipment. Fowlers Bluff still owns the fire station, Mount said, though the vehicles have been turned over to the county because it, per the contract with the community, is responsible for maintenance.David Florence, who will continue to function as chief for the department, said the county's plan has also helped to improve communication between various fire departments and agencies such as Levy County EMS."Everything has improved so drastically ..." he said.Knowles said there's still a lot of work to be done with the county fire department."Rome wasn't built in a day, but we'll be able to improve the system as time goes on."Knowles said representatives from Yankeetown, "the second to come on board," as well as Rosewood, are set to come before the Levy County Board of Commissioners Aug. 7 to ask that their fire departments be able to merge with the county's.