By RUBY KEARCE
Note: Due to press deadlines, this is Part One of two articles on the SWFD Board’s Aug. 8 meeting. Part Two will run in the Aug. 17 edition of the Herald – Breeze.
The South Walton Fire District (SWFD) board of commissioners held its monthly meeting on Aug. 8, where Bob Brooke, Phil Friday, and Jim Vernon were on the ballot to fill the empty 7th commission seat. both Brooke and Friday attended the meeting and took the opportunity to approach the board and answer questions. Friday won the election with 2 votes in his favor.
Attorney Rene Youell thanked the board for their continued confidence in her services, and presented a detailed report of her work for the board during the previous month. Youell reported that she reduced fees for telephone and emails between her office and district employees, effectively cutting her hourly rate from $175.00 to $75.57. The commissioners passed a motion to accept Youell’s proposed monthly invoice.
In the month of July, SWFD firefighters responded to a total of 941 calls, compared to last July’s 1,055 responses, an 11 percent decrease. SWFD also responded to 15 calls regarding fire, 617 regarding medical events, 24 regarding hazardous conditions, 77 service calls, 110 good intent calls, and 98 false alarms. SWFD lifeguards dealt with 464,336 visitors in the month of July, with 20 water rescues, 90 assists, 78 medical events, and 77,797 preventions.
Chief Ryan Crawford presented the board with his monthly report. Crawford first discussed the final three week junior lifeguard session, and announced a total of 160 children who participated in this year’s program. Then Crawford announced that Assistant Chief Hughes and himself attended the Florida Fire Chiefs Executive Development Conference and state meetings held in southwest Florida last month, where Hughes completed his fourth of six emergency service leadership institute modules.
Assistant Chief Latour is currently in Anaheim, California, attending the National Association of Public Safety Communication Operators conference. Crawford himself is scheduled to attend Fire Rescue International later this month in San Antonio, Texas, and HR Manager Lois Labarreare will be attending the Florida Human Resource Conference in Orlando.
Crawford moved on to mention how the district noticed a longer wait time for fire response in the Watersound North community area, so he executed the licensure document with St. Joe allowing the district to proceed with due diligence on the five acre parcel of land identified for a future fire station. this also allows SWFD civil engineers to evaluate if the parcel can work for their needs.
Crawford also shared that the development of the SWFD smart phone application has been finished and is now available on Apple and Android’s app stores. Crawford hopes the app will help SWFD to better interact and engage with the citizens and provide an easier method of sending time-sensitive messages to the community.
A Walton County communications round table meeting will be held at the SWFD headquarters on Thursday, Aug. 18, at 5 p.m. The meetings are being held to enhance continued communication with public safety stakeholders on the possibility of procurement and migration of an approved county wide radio system and associated infrastructure. The meetings are held quarterly.
SWFD is also planning to host a fifth annual 9/11 Memorial Run/Walk for the morning of Sunday, Sept. 11, beginning promptly at 8:46 a.m., the time the first plane hit the World Trade Center’s North Tower. This is a 3.43 mile route along a new stretch of CR-30A. This year the invitation will be extended to all firefighters from Destin, Panama City Beach, and all Walton County departments. the meeting point will be at Bramble Grove beach access at 8 a.m.