Fire departments around Florida answered the call to help Bay County

Published: Mar. 8, 2022 at 6:13 PM CST
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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - It was a call fire stations around Florida quickly answered.

“With the size of this fire and the complexity of it, our resources get taxed early on,” David Collier, the Fire Chief for the Panama City Fire Department, said.

More than 20 fire departments have joined in putting out the flames of the Chipola Complex wildfires.

“This is what we do, this is what we signed up to do,” Robert Izzo, Battalion Chief of Orange County Fire Rescue and Strike Team Leader for the Central Florida Strike Team, said.

Five fire stations; Orange County, Seminole County, St. Cloud, Osceola County, and Canaveral make up the Central Florida Strike Team.

“We’re up here trying to make sure everybody is safe, everybody’s home is taken care of, and then go back home to ours,” Izzo said.

No matter what the name on their uniform is, these firefighters say they come together and work as one big unit.

“We all know how we all operate together regardless of what department you come from,” Collier said.

“Because we’re all firemen, it’s like we’ve known each other for 30, 40, 50 years,” Izzo said. “We speak the same language. We know what everybody else is doing, we all have the same tasks, same training. It’s like coming up here to a family reunion of people we’ve never met.”

Where strangers become friends.

“We’re extremely thankful and grateful for what they’re doing and we hope one day we can return the favor to them if they ever need us as well,” Collier said.

Where heroes recognize heroes.

“The real heroes up here are the people of Bay County, they are taking care of us,” Izzo said. “We’re walking around everywhere getting a drink, getting a sandwich, getting something. Those are the heroes up here”

Thank you to all of the first responders fighting the fires and keeping Bay County safe.

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