County officials: Hernando Beach Volunteer Fire Dept. non-compliant over violations, deficiencies

Volunteer fire service facing mounting criticism
Posted at 3:52 PM, Jan 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-17 15:52:28-05

Concerns are mounting over a volunteer fire department, as fire fighters are accused of drinking alcohol in the fire station and not turning over requested financial records to Hernando County officials. 

Hernando Beach Volunteer Fire Department is now at the center of a fact-finding mission after Hernando County officials issued a five page breach of contract to Chief David Murdock. 

The documents detail a list of violations and deficiencies, including to two years of missing financial reports, according to a county spokesperson. 

"We don't know how they're using the money, that's why we are wanting to see the financial statements," said Virginia Smith, with Hernando County. 

A former volunteer is now making shocking allegations against the department, calling it the "worst run fire department" he has ever seen. 

Don Bisson sent an email to country commissioners stating he witnessed fire fighters drinking beer inside the fire station and claims he walked in on one volunteer fire fighter having sex there that very same month. 

County officials would not comment on those allegations Friday. 

A phone call and visit to Hernando Beach Volunteer Fire Department to speak with Chief David Murdock were not successful. 

A volunteer who answered the door told ABC Action News that Chief Murdock got our message and would respond, but there has not been a call as of 11 p.m. Friday. 

If changes are not made in 30 days to fix the numerous issues and violations listed, county officials say they will take action to do what's best for the safety of Hernando Beach residents. 

Questions are now circulating if Hernando County Fire Rescue will take over the beach's fire and rescue duties. 

HCFR is already responding to serious medical calls in Hernando Beach as a precaution, which can stretch county resources and costs. 

"We have had a few issues where there has been a delay or they have not responded to calls out in that area," said HCFR Dep. Chief Kevin Carroll. 

Hernando Beach's medical director abruptly resigned last week, forcing the volunteer department to cease responding to even basic life support calls. 

HCFR recently issued an order to Hernando Beach stating they are only allowed to respond to calls for service involving fires. 

"That's why we have stepped it up to make sure that our fire engines on the more serious calls are going out there to provide additional assistance to our rescues," said Carroll. 

A meeting do discuss the status of Hernando Beach Volunteer Fire Department is scheduled for February 14.