HOLT, Fla., Oct. 25, 2020–Holt Fire Chief Scott Chestnut spoke to the Okaloosa County Board of County Commissioners Oct. 20 to thank them for their assistance with obtaining state funding for a new fire station.
“We really appreciate the board, Mr. Boyles and Mr. Williamson for their efforts to push this through,” said the chief. “This is a tremendous blessing to us to be able to have this come in to build a department.”
Florida state Rep. Jayer Williamson was instrumental behind the effort to convince Gov. Ron DeSantis to sign the 2021 fiscal year budget in late June that included $813,000 for a new Holt fire station.
“We were able to secure, with this board’s support, and with the support of our legislative delegation led on this issue by Rep. Williamson, $813,000 from the legislature this year for the construction of a new volunteer fire department out in Holt,” said District 3 Commissioner Nathan Boyles.
Earlier this year, Holt Fire had to move its headquarters from the older community center to a leased building across U.S. Highway 90 to house the fire trucks because of the decaying building and a rodent problem.
“This [funding] puts us leaps and bounds ahead of where we would be without it,” Chestnut said. “This is a big thing for us and everybody’s really excited.”
Holt Fire District operates with 18 volunteers, 15 of whom are state certified, to cover 57 square miles within the district, which includes 9 miles of Interstate 10 and 9 miles along the railroad that runs through the area.
So far this year, HFD has responded to more than 360 emergency calls, “with more to come,” said Chestnut.
“For the traveling public up and down on Interstate 10 as it moves through Okaloosa County, you’d be surprised at the number of calls that they run to what is frankly a pretty dangerous stretch of interstate,” said Boyles about HFD’s response rate. “Oftentimes they’re out and responding first when you have issues on the interstate.”
Getting the state funding for a new fire station “is a worthwhile cause,” said Boyles. “We were just tickled to get these dollars, especially in a really tight budget year.”