VIDEO: Soon, fire fighters will be the only first responders rescuing people from Panama City Beach's Gulf waters.
Right now, police officers, firefighters, and parks and recreation officials all share the responsibility. Handing the torch to the fire department aims to save more lives in the end.
It's a trend throughout the state. "We're very excited at the opportunity. Chief Whitman has had this program under his watch for years and this is a new opportunity for us," Panama City Beach Fire Chief Larry Couch said.
Around $600,000 a year will be moved from the police department to the fire department. With six new hires already, 12 more firefighters will join the team.
"Our city is growing, we're adding a new fire station, [and] we're adding 18 firefighters total. This is a new direction for our fire department, and we're very excited about it," Couch said.
It all aims to save more lives. All fire fighters will be cross-trained to fight flames and save distressed swimmers.