2 vying for fire commission seat

Sheri Kotzum | 315-4353 | @DestinLogSheri |
Patty DeFrenza

When voters head to the polls on November 6th, they'll have the chance to elect a new Destin Fire Commissioner.

Candidate Patty DeFrenza and current fire commissioner Bob Wagner are facing off in the race for the Seat 5.

DeFrenza has lived in Destin for 17 years and has 20 years of experience as a firefighter paramedic. DeFrenza said she moved to Destin because she thought the fire stations had paramedics on duty 24/7 and she was comfortable with that. When she found out there weren’t ambulances in the fire stations, she began to take action.

“I am the only candidate with an extensive background in fire department/EMS operations and a 20-year career in providing those fire department services and emergency paramedic response with advanced life support management,” DeFrenza said. “I’ve done the job, I’ve been going to fire commission meetings for years, I’ve done all my homework.”

DeFrenza said the issues she is most passionate about are career progression opportunities for paramedics, putting ambulances in fire stations, and boosting employee relations.

Wagner has served as a fire commissioner since 2014. He believes he has followed through on his campaign promises and has saved taxpayers from higher taxes.

“I’ve accomplished everything that I’ve said I was gonna do,” Wagner said. “We haven’t raised taxes, we’ve been able to balance the budget, we’re planning a new fire station on the west side of the city. … The previous board wanted to raise the millage cap to 3.75 from 1.0 and I was instrumental in making sure that didn’t happen.”

In his time as a fire commissioner, Wager said the fire department has purchased a new fire truck, department vehicles and firefighting equipment with cash. The firefighter pension funded level was raised from 35 percent to 70 percent, they’ve provided pay raises to employees, balanced the budget every year with no debt and planned a third fire station.

The new station will be a joint venture with the city and is proposed to be built at Clement Taylor Park. Wagner said the new station will be fully funded by impact fees, so the taxpayers won’t bear the burden or the cost.