Battle over Greater Naples Fire Department could leave some without coverage

Reporter: Claire Galt Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:

A battle over money could leave some without a fire station nearby. That battle is taking place over the Greater Naples Fire Department.

It has been two years since the fight began, but little progress has been made because at least one million dollars are at stake.

Now, there are deadlines on the horizon, and if some money doesn’t change hands, many people will see the fire station that protects them shut down.

“If you lose one child, how do you justify that?” asked a woman from Everglades City who asked not to be named.

The fight over the fire station is getting nowhere. “We have been losing close to about one and almost one and a half million dollars,” said Greater Naples Fire Commission Chair Al Duffy.

Duffy says it’s time to let the county run this station again or for them to give Greater Naples fire more money to do it. Duffy said the county has been ignoring him. “Since I’ve been on the board.”

“This has been a topic almost every month. And we haven’t made any headway,” said Duffy.

Collier County and Greater Naples Fire District agreed in 2016, saying “Naples Fire” has run the stations in Everglades City and Port of the Isles.

Duffy said that agreement was a bad one from the start.

On January 11, The Greater Naples Fire Department sent a letter to Collier County officials telling them they have 90 days to give them the funding they need, or they’re taking their fire stations out of Everglades City, and Port of Isles come May 1.

“Public service isn’t a volleyball thing to volleyball around. It’s public service. It’s a public safety issue,” said a woman from Everglades City who asked not to be named.

She said she feels like the people of Everglades City are being punished for a money war between officials. She’s terrified at the thought of not having a fire station to protect her home.

“Seems like it could be resolved some way in some way, shape, or form to protect innocent citizens and visitors and children that are here,” she said. “It’s an assumption you just make as a human being, you know, in America.”

So will the fire station shut down on May 1? Duffy said he hopes it doesn’t get to that point. He has faith that the county will step up and either pay them more or take back the department

WINK News reached out to Collier County about the issue but has not gotten a response.

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