The Town of Jupiter amended its budget on Tuesday night to move $11 million to start purchasing equipment for its own fire and EMS service as several firefighters showed their support to keep services with Palm Beach County Fire Rescue.
Most of the money will purchase vehicles like ambulances and fire trucks, according to town documents. Its the second effort by the Town Council to fund its new fire rescue department, which is set to begin in 2026.
The PBCFR, which currently serves Jupiter, and its firefighter union said it is against the town’s plan to create its own department. Union Officials helped organize another demonstration at the council’s biweekly meeting Tuesday in protest against the decision.
DJ Manger, who is within leadership for a local union for firefighters and paramedics in Palm Beach County, said a potentially smaller Jupiter Fire Department pays employees less and offers fewer training opportunities in September.
Jupiter’s Town Council voted to create its own fire department in August because a consultant report estimated a savings of $68 million over an eight-year period along with additional budgetary and policy control over the towns emergency services.
According to town documents, a consultant has already been hired to create the department and money has been formally moved to begin making purchases. However, people against the change are asking the council to put the issue on the ballot.
Michelle Salzer, who is an intensive care nurse, said she feels like the process the council used to make its decision was unfair because enough people weren’t notified about the change. She said she supports the county service because the department helped her mother during a medical emergency.
“I was very grateful for them,” she said. “They were very professional. They knew what to do and were well-trained.”
Town documents show the Town Council began conducting a study on creating its fire department more than a year ago. Council members also said the cost of the department will increase dramatically starting in 2022.
Some people at the meeting testified in support of council’s decision, citing the savings.