Board members of the Navarre Beach Volunteer Fire Department may soon revoke the long-standing privilege of allowing on-duty firefighters to cross the bridge for personal reasons.
The issue was first discussed in November when several leaseholders questioned why Navarre Beach firefighters were dining at the Boondocks facility, which is on the south side of U.S. Highway 98, with the fire truck.
At the time, board members asked Fire Chief Mike Howard to draft a policy addressing the issue, which Howard presented during the board’s Jan. 5 meeting.
“It’s common practice,” Howard explained, “and I’ve given them a limit when they cross that bridge and how many times a day, whether it’s to eat or make a store run, they are to do it all at one time. That’s the policy and that’s what they’re adhering to.”
At most, firefighters could theoretically be gone for up to an hour-and-a-half at any establishment not more than five miles from the station’s front door.
However, the chief’s policy was not sufficient for the board members, especially Tim Koehane, who expressed his frustration over the firefighters’ need to leave the station to eat.
“Here’s my problem,” said Koehane, who works as a helicopter pilot for Sacred Heart Health System, “my job is not that different from your job, and I could not justify to Sacred Heart Health System leaving my post. Because my job, like your job is time sensitive; it’s saving lives.”
For more on this story, check out the Jan. 13 edition of the Navarre Press or subscribe online.