Residents from Sunbury and Colonel’s Island had a rude awakening New Year’s Day when they learned that Eastern District Fire Rescue was no longer providing services to their area, located east of Interstate 95 in Liberty County. Many of these property owners contacted the Coastal Courier early this week with their concerns.
Courier news staffers sat down with Liberty County Administrator Joey Brown Thursday to get some clarification on the matter.
According to Brown, Sunbury will temporarily have fire services provided by the first out Station 12-1(Lake George) which houses paid firefighters 10 hours per day along with volunteers to include some of those previously connected with EDFR.
“That manpower will be supplemented by other county departments and, if needed, mutual aid from other jurisdictions,” he said.
EDFR decided to end its contract with Liberty County and no longer answer calls as of 12:01 a.m. January 1, according to Brown. EDFR operated a station in Sunbury and one in Half Moon.
“Eastern District Fire Rescue has provided outstanding emergency response for over 27 years to the citizens of Liberty County,” Brown said. “My hat is off to them for their professionalism and service.”
According to social media posts, Joe Martin, the long-serving and dedicated fire chief for Eastern District, stepped down as chief. Area residents speculate this could have been one of several factors that contributed to the district’s closure.
The county is currently exploring a temporary lease of assets from EDFR so they can stage equipment and volunteers in that eastern sector of the county while it considers options associated with station construction, the county administrator said. Brown said the fire station in Lake George was also a privately-run district at one time, before it came under the county’s control several years ago. The administrator said sales tax revenues were used to upgrade that station, and to build the station in Gumbranch to primarily respond to fires, accidents, and other emergencies on the west side of the county.
A lease agreement with Eastern District Fire Rescue is listed as an agenda item for the Liberty County Board of Commissioner’s meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 8.