Alachua County ending fire service agreement with Gainesville Fire

County and City Fire separate jurisdiction and possibly dispatch radio frequencies

Alachua County Fire Rescue has decided not to renew its fire services assistance agreement with Gainesville Fire-Rescue.

The agreement, which calls for the closest department to respond to a call despite the jurisdiction, has been around for 30 years.

"There's been a compensation piece of that agreement for all of these years and last year the board realized the cost to the county was approaching 2 million dollars," Alachua County Fire Chief Bill Northcutt said.

Because of these costs, the county decided it would be better to open more stations instead of paying the city to respond outside those limits.

This agreement ends June 1st, and the city will no longer be compensated for traveling outside those limits.

Gainesville Fire Chief Jeff Lane sent the county a letter asking for city and county dispatch to be completely separated.

Lane said if the City isn't getting compensated for going outside their boundaries, why would they still be under one dispatch?

However, County Fire thinks dispatch should be together because it's better for the community and cost less.

"The benefits are: we can hear if the other units are in trouble. If we are driving down the road and one of our crews hears a serious call and they are driving much closer they can divert and take that call much quicker," Northcutt said.

Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe said the county's decision to end the agreement is disappointing but promised city residents will receive the same level of service, and said the city will still help the county in extreme emergencies.

A decision for separating dispatch hasn't been made. City and County leaders say they will meet again before the June 1st deadline.

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