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The Villages
Friday, October 15, 2021

Villagers show support for firefighters ahead of crucial Sumter County vote

Villagers attending an open house Monday at The Villages Public Safety Department Station #47 indicated they are eager to be heard at a crucial meeting on the future of ambulance service in Sumter County.

The Sumter County Commission will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Everglades Recreation Center.

Lt. Rocky Hartman answers Villagers questions regarding department equipment
Lt. Rocky Hartman answers Villagers’ questions regarding firefighting equipment.

Commissioners will weigh options on whether a single ambulance service will be operated by the county or as separate services by The Villages Public Safety Department and Sumter County Fire Rescue.

Organizations ranging from the Village Center Community Development District Board of Supervisors to the Property Owners’ Association have endorsed what has become known as “Option 9,” which would maintain separate fire departments and turn over emergency transportation (ambulance service) to the those two fire departments.

Villager Nancy Schoenacher with a fully equipped Villages fire rescue officers.
Villager Nancy Schoenacher with a fully equipped firefighter.

It is expected that with their decision, the commissioners will finally end months of worry and anger over delays in ambulance transport. Those feelings were further inflamed when there was a move to combine The Villages Public Safety Department and Sumter County Fire Rescue. Residents packed two meetings at the Wildwood Community Center, expressing their strong desire to allow the two departments to continue to operate independently.

Village of Buttonwood resident Bernie Harchar served for 37 years as a firefighter in the Cleveland area. He has been paying close attention to this issue and strongly supports Option 9.

“That way on a daily basis the community is assured that they will get a rapid response out of a fire station with paramedics and an ambulance. And they will be backed up by their brother firefighters. There will be more harmony. They know each other. They know how each other works,” he said.

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