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Fire response in Countryside will be slower if Rescue 50 cut

Cut would slow fire response

I am writing this letter to express my concern over the proposed elimination of Clearwater Fire Rescue 50, located in the Countryside neighborhood. Rescue 50 has been responding to the calls for service in the Countryside neighborhood for more than 30 years. Year after year, the number of calls has steadily increased, with more than 2,200 calls for service last year.

Rescue 50 is a transport-capable rescue unit staffed with two firefighter paramedics, and is backed up by Engine 50 staffed with three personnel. The staffing level at Station 50 would drop from five personnel on two units to three personnel on a single unit.

The Countryside area has many areas that are only accessible off Countryside Boulevard or Landmark Drive. The backup units from Safety Harbor and Dunedin will have to come across State Road 580 and then up one of those roads, which will cause a considerable delay. Eliminating Rescue 50 will cause a significant increase in response times due to these units coming from farther away. If there are two simultaneous calls, a unit from the Safety Harbor or Dunedin Fire Department would most likely respond.

A car crash, which requires two fire department units, would also require a unit from another fire department or from a farther Clearwater Fire & Rescue station. This should not be acceptable with U.S. 19 and SR 580 in this district. The call volume is increasing year after year in the Countryside area, jumping almost 100 calls per year.

I understand that we are living in tough economic times. Pinellas County has cut the Emergency Medical Service funding for the Clearwater Fire Department, and the citizens of Countryside will be the ones to suffer. During previous Clearwater budget sessions, City Council members instructed concerned citizens to contact the Pinellas County commissioners regarding the loss of Rescue 50. Since when are Clearwater citizens responsible for the negotiations for EMS funding between the city and the county?

We elect officials to be the fiscal guardians of our tax dollars with our safety as the No. 1 priority. The grand opening of a $13 million marina, when we are cutting front-line public safety units, should not be acceptable to any citizen of Clearwater.

The city recently paid $89,000 for a study of the Fire Department. That study did not recommend the elimination of Rescue 50. As a matter of fact, it identified the Countryside area as one of two areas where the department was not putting enough people on scene of a structure fire in the recommended time frame. Eliminating Rescue 50 will take two more people off the response and move us further from the standard that we don't meet today.

If the city can "borrow" money from one to fund to purchase property in an effort to reduce crime, can they not play the same shell game to fund Rescue 50?

It is time for the citizens of Clearwater to tell this council that we will not tolerate any reduction in the staffing of our Fire Department.

Gerard DeVivo, president, Clearwater Firefighters Association

Re: Mom's playground picks story, Sept. 26

Library play area needs your vote

It is serendipitous that this article was published about playgrounds on Sunday. The Dunedin Public Library playground is among the top 10 locations in the United States in the running for a KaBOOM!/Parents Magazine Forrester's Imagination Playground in a Box.

As the Florida mom has posted on our KaBOOM! playground site, we are in desperate need of a new playground. For the entire summer, our patrons and community voted to get us in the top 50 of this contest. Judges put us in the top 10 and in the coming week, we'll need the community to vote for us again to make us one of the top three winners.

This is not an actual playground set, but an amazing set of foam pieces that encourage play and imagination. We encourage the community to rally behind the library to encourage a great place to play and read! Visit our website at www.dunedingov.com to find out more information about this contest and all the great programs we offer to the youth of our community at the Dunedin Public Library.

Phyllis Gorshe, head of youth services, Dunedin Public Library

Re: Breeder denies mistreating horses story, Sept. 8

Horses deserve another home

I felt so bad about those poor horses, I just had to write. Is this man in denial? The poor horses would have died if someone did not call the authorities. I really don't understand how this man can say he "would never hurt an animal" when the facts clearly show how his horses were found "so skinny you could see their rib cages."

Did he ever check out how his horses were doing? And if he did, did he not see the barren yard and no water? If he really loved his animals — or horses, in this case — would he?

I would hope that the authorities would not give these poor animals back to him, as they depend on their caretakers to love them and take care of them (by, of course, feeding them) or see that they are taken care of.

Alice Reichman, Clearwater

>>Your voice counts

You may submit a letter to the editor for possible publication through our website at www.tampabay.com/letters, or by faxing it to (727) 445-4119, or by mailing it to Letters, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. You must include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length.

Fire response in Countryside will be slower if Rescue 50 cut 09/28/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 28, 2010 6:10pm]

    

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