"The City of Panama City Beach" as it currently exists, was formally incorporated in 1969. The city was created as a result of the merger of the original four communities on the island. Edgewater, Panama City Beach, Long Beach and West Panama City Beach.
In the late 1950’s the community of Long Beach established the first fire department, followed shortly after by West Panama City Beach. Both of these fire departments were all volunteer.
After the city incorporation in 1969, the two separate fire departments merged into one and “Panama City Beach Fire Department" was born.
Not much about the Long Beach Fire Department is known, and it is still being researched.
- September 1959 the City of West Panama City Beach declared and established fire districts.
- October 1959 the first fire station was built and the first fire engine was purchased.
- December 1959 the city approved a utility tax on the power and phone bills to help pay for fire protection.
- July 1960 the city passed an ordinance allowing volunteer firefighters to be designated as police officers with full authority when under the supervision of a regular patrolman to help out in busy times.
- September 1960 a junior firefighter program was started.
- September 1960 the city gave permission for the fire department to respond outside of the city limits to fight a house fire, when assistance was requested.
The fire department schedule back then was as follows:
Department meetings were held on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 7:30 pm Training drills were held on the 2nd Wednesday and 4th Saturday of each month at 1:30 pm
When Panama City Beach Fire Department started, it went from all volunteer firefighters, to mostly volunteer and a few career firefighters, to eventually in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s converting over to all career firefighters.
In the beginning the fire department would operate off a telephone system and fire alarm siren that would notify all the volunteers of a fire. Later after the first career firefighter was hired, the emergency phone call would come into the fire station, where the firefighter would take all the information, dispatch the emergency over the fire radio and plectron system to alert the other firefighters, then respond to the emergency in the fire engine. Eventually as technology improved all 911 emergency calls would be routed to the Panama City Beach Police Department, where they would and still do dispatch the fire department to all emergencies.
The original salary for the volunteer fire chief in 1967 was $50. The first career fire chief in 1970 was paid $4,800/yr plus utilities and an apartment located inside the fire station. Today the salary and benefits are definitely better.
Over the years the members of the fire department realized the need for advanced education and further job diversity. The people we serve are valued customers and they needed more from their fire department than just someone who showed up to put out a fire. In 1997 the fire department established a very thorough and aggressive Basic Life Support Emergency Response Plan and changed its name from Panama City Beach Fire Department to Panama City Beach Fire Rescue. Panama City Beach Fire Rescue can proudly boast that it has the best ALS program and the most trained Firefighter/EMT and Firefighter/Paramedic’s in the county. Panama City Beach Fire Rescue was also the 1st fire department in Bay County to get a LifePack 15 and can now provides ALS medical services to all of its citizens and visitors. All of this planning, training and effort was done to provide the BEST service possible to our “Customers”.
The “Customers” of Panama City Beach Fire Rescue have come to realize that we do more than just fight fires. They know that we also provide:
- Advanced Life Support (ALS)
- Vehicle extrication
- Haz-Mat response
- High angle rope rescue
- Confined space rescue
- Wildland Firefighting
- Fire prevention/safety classes
- CPR/first aid courses
- Fire inspections
- Station/fire engine tours
- Blood pressure checks
Throughout the growth of the city, the department has grown from 7 firefighters in 1985 to 21 firefighters in 1987 and finally to 35 firefighters in 2008 and has relocated the fire stations to better meet the demands and needs of our “Customers”.
Fire Station 1 relocated in 1993 from its old location on Firenzo Street (current site of PCBPD) to its new and current location at 17121 Panama City Beach Parkway on the West side on the city.
Fire Station 2 was built in 1984 and is still at its original location at 10015 Middle Beach Road on the East side of the city.
Panama City Beach Fire Rescue is eager and willing to face what the future and anticipated growth has in store. We are currently working on plans for a 3rd fire station to serve the new growth on the city’s far West side, and efforts to relocate Fire Station 2 to a different location that would provide for better/faster response to the rapidly growing areas on the city’s East side.
Despite the changes over the years and no matter what the future holds, one thing has remained the same and will NEVER change. Panama City Beach Fire Rescue is “Dedicated to Customer Service” and our mission is “Providing you with the highest level of protection available”.
- 1968 - 1970 - Bill Haywood (West PCB VFD, then PCB VFD)
- 1970 - Sept. 1973 - William Joseph Flynn
- Sept. 1973 - Nov. 1973 - Lou Corea (interim chief)
- Nov. 1973 - Feb. 1974 - William Joseph Flynn
- 1974 - 1982 - Ernest Brown
- 1982 - 1983 - Warren Patterson
- 1983 - 1985 - Duncan Alford
- 1985 - 2002 - Mike Brown
- 2002 - 2016 - John Daly
- 2017 - present Larry Couch