It’s unusual to hear of fighting fire with fire, but two Walton County fire-fighting agencies are doing just that. Last year, there was a request for help from Walton County Fire Rescue denied by another local fire department.
 
Here is the dispatch recording:
DISPATCH: “Battalion 1 requesting Tanker 7 be en route 169 Lorenz Drive for structure fire. 15-27.”
DISPATCH: “L-2, go ahead.”
ROY: “Yes, ma’am, you’ll need to bypass Liberty due to funding considerations of the county.”
 
In November of last year, Liberty Volunteer Fire Department was asked by Walton County Fire Rescue for assistance in a rural part of the county.
 
“One of the firefighters there decided not to send tanker support for Walton County,” said Fire Chief Bobby Martin for Walton County Fire Rescue.
 
The person who made the decision was Assistant Fire Chief Tony Roy with the Liberty Volunteer Fire Department.
 
“It was a quick decision,” said Assistant Chief Roy. “And it’s based on our board – our board had unanimously voted on several occasions to stop rendering aid.”
 
The department doesn’t have a mutual aid agreement with Walton County Fire Rescue.
 
“They chose last year not to sign the mutual aid agreement since the county had stopped funding to the independent fire districts,” said Chief Martin.
 
That caused those departments to increase their assessments. Both Walton County and Liberty charge 75 dollars a year. Roy said the money is enough to support their districts operations but not the mutual aid costs. 
 
“We can’t continue going to those calls and ruining our equipment,” said Roy. “And we got to a point and said, ‘Hey. We can no longer do that and still serve our community.’ Our community has got to be number one.”
 
The mutual aid agreement is still on the table, but Liberty said there is only one way they will sign it.
 
“A fair proportionate of the funding that comes out of the general revenue account to Liberty Fire District so we can maintain our equipment,” said Roy.
 
Currently the departments are in a political impasse; it’s one Martin said shouldn’t matter.
 
“There is no place for politics in public safety,” said Martin.
 
Liberty Fire does say they make those mutual aid decisions on a case by case basis. Walton County Fire Rescue also said they will respond to calls for help from any agency.