MILTON — Milton Fire Department deployed two fire fighters and an engine to Washington County at 5 a.m. Thursday morning to assist with damages from Hurricane Michael. Fire Chief John Reble said the ability to reciprocate is important.  

"The citizens of Milton recognize the tremendous value of the assistance we received after Ivan," Reble said. "Although we're limited in our capacity, we're thrilled to be able to assist Washington County."

Milton Fire Department was deployed as a part of a county strike team sent from Santa Rosa County. A strike team is a group of similar resources with a leader and typically, Reble said, consists of four engines with a leader. Included in the team from Milton is a fire fighter from Gulf Breeze to complete a team with a minimum of three people and an engine. The team from Santa Rosa County included an engine and a team of four firefighters from the Pace Fire Department, an engine and a team of four fire fighters from Midway, a team of three from Navarre Beach; an engine from Skyline Fire Department, and the team from Milton, completing the strike team.

Reble said although sending two people from MFD places the department at minimum staffing, he is happy to be able to send the team and the engine.

"For many years, the funding of fire apparatus replacement was placed within the city's broader general fund budget and was a challenge," he said. "With the fire service fee, this was resolved. The council established a 10-year replacement cycle with 1 rescue and 3 engines in the service fleet. I'm happy we were able to send a good truck."

He said when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Louisiana and Gulf Port, Mississippi in 2005, Milton Fire Department didn't have a reliable engine to send. "

We didn't have the depth in the fleet to afford the loss of a suitable truck during the deployment."

The Department of Health-Santa Rosa County will be sending crews to the affected areas to relieve emergency workers and other volunteers aiding in clean up and other disaster relief.

Sheriff Bob Johnson joined deployment team from the Santa Rosa County Sheriffs Office to aid in efforts.

The Santa Rosa County Commission sent out an incident management team consisting of Public Information Officer Brandi Whitehurst, Operations Chief Tom Lyod, Manager of Administration Services Tammy Simmons, and Director of Public Safety Brad Baker. The County also sent out two dispatch officers according to Santa Rosa County Public Information Specialist Sarah Whitfield.