Liberty Fire District
Report 23-06, June 2023
- The Liberty Fire District is not in compliance with several statutory requirements related to special district administration. Specifically, the district board has not routinely adopted a five-year plan, appropriately adopted budget resolutions, or submitted its most recent statutorily required audit. The board also has not regularly filed meeting schedules, made meeting records available for public inspection, or maintained a public website. Additionally, reported misrepresentation of district data and ongoing issues with staffing may negatively affect district processes and operations.
- District incident volume increased over the review period, with volunteer staff primarily responding to rescue and emergency medical service incidents. Division of State Fire Marshal data shows that fewer than half of the district volunteers met minimum certification requirements to be a volunteer firefighter in Florida and can enter the area close to a fire. Consequently, Walton County automatically dispatches county units to all medical and fire incidents within the district. The county and the district have not considered consolidation to address inefficiencies, and the district has not taken steps to improve coordination.
- The district does not measure its effectiveness, though it meets one national standard for timeliness and its insurance ratings improved over the review period. Additionally, the district does not collect feedback on its performance, and internal and external stakeholders reported that district performance could improve.
- During the review period, the district’s annual revenues did not cover expenditures, with both revenues and expenses decreasing; the district used surplus funds to cover the difference. Moreover, district staffing decreased over the review period, and staffing may not meet district needs. District representatives reported that the condition of some apparatus and vehicles does not meet district needs.
- OPPAGA recommends the district board take a number of steps to improve performance and make operations statutorily compliant. OPPAGA also recommends that the district board and the Legislature consider additional steps to support effective and accountable fire and rescue operations in Walton County.
fire, special district, volunteers, vehicles, EMS, dispatch, performance standards, ISO, state fire marshal, commissioners, firefighters, apparatus, impact fees, non-advalorem