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BOE grants volunteers use of school towers

News Staff Writer

The Escambia County Board of Education recently approved a measure that will allow the county’s volunteer fire departments to make use of the communications towers located at several county schools.
The memorandum of aid (MOA) between the BOE and the Escambia County Alabama Association of Volunteer Fire Departments will allow volunteers to remain in contact with other public safety agencies when emergency responders are dispatched to the county’s most remote areas, including its rural schools.
The towers, which are not being used by the school system, are located at Huxford Elementary School, Escambia Career Readiness Center in Brewton, W.S. Neal Middle School, Flomaton High School and Pollard-McCall Junior High School.
Most, but not all, of the county’s volunteer agencies will benefit from use of the enhanced communications.
Efforts to identify and contact the president of the county’s volunteer firefighter association for comment were unsuccessful.
“It will not benefit the Nokomis VFD,” said Jerry Gehman, a captain with the volunteer fire department there. “The sites are not in our coverage area.”
Despite the lack of benefit to NVFD, Gehman said he feels the measure will definitely enhance the ability of other volunteer firefighters to communicate with each other and with city, county or state agencies, therefore enhancing emergency response across the county.
“I can’t speak on behalf of the County VFDA, but the old saying, ‘don’t look a gift horse in the mouth,’ comes to mind,” he said. “Anytime you can get ‘air space,’ I think it’s a good thing.”
The MOA requires that the volunteer association maintain a $1 million general liability insurance policy as well as premises liability insurance.