Beach Fire District Rated Top 2%

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    At their meeting on Tuesday, Fire Chief Matthew Love of the Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District told the Board of Fire Commissioners that the district has been ranked in the top 2% of fire districts nationwide by the Insurance Standards Organization (ISO).

    The ISO Property Protection Classification (PPC) rating of 2 for the district is a dramatic improvement from their previous rating of ISO-PPC 4. Chief Love explained that ISO evaluates 47,500 Fire Protection Areas nationwide and only 2% earn an ISO rating of 2. Ratings run from Class 10 representing fire protection that does not meet minimum ISO standards, to Class 1 that represents superior fire protection.

    This is the best ISO rating the district has ever had, Love explained. The ISO-PPC comprehensive evaluation looks at all aspects of a Fire Department’s service to determine efficiency. It measures how well the district shares its Mission, Vision and Values with key stakeholders as well as how the department works with surrounding fire departments to respond to emergencies and disasters.

    The ISO-PPC 2 rating may translate into lower insurance premiums for district residents and especially, commercial property owners. Division Chief Fire Marshal Ron Martin suggests that at the time of insurance renewal, property owners contact the district for an ISO-PPC letter to present to their insurance carrier. He can be reached by emailing Prevention@fmbfire.org.

    Chief Love thanked the community for their support.

    “The Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District would like to thank our community for their support, and the following stakeholders without whom this prestigious classification would not be possible: Town of FMB, Lee County Department of Public Safety, Lee County Government, the neighboring Fire Districts of Bonita, Estero, Iona-McGregor, San Carlos, Sanibel and South Trail.”

    Board Elections

    During the Chief’s Report, Love provided information on the November election for two seats on the board. Seat 2, currently held by John Pohland and Seat 4, held by Larry Wood, will be on the ballot. The deadline for qualifying by petition in lieu of paying the $25 filing fee is May 23, 2016. The qualifying period runs from noon, June 20, 2016 to noon, June 24, 2016, though early qualifying begins June 6, 2016.

    Love also reported that he has met with the majority of neighboring Fire Chiefs and discussed collaborative efforts. He has also met with CERT, noting, “It remains a very valuable part of this organization.”

    Love, along with Fire Marshal Ron Martin have met with some outside agencies regarding large development planning as requested by the board, hoping to develop a plan so that the district is prepared to serve any proposed development.

    Board Chairwoman Carol Morris inquired how the district could be sure that they are not impacted negatively on taxes on new development, referencing Diversified Yachts.

    “There had to be a deal cut because their assessed value was less than what they paid for the land. We need to find out what kind of deal was done for Diversified Yachts and why. It might have been legitimate…as a fire department we should have an idea of what was behind it. It impacts our taxes.”

    Love recognized district staff service anniversaries, including Captain Dan Miller-11years and Firefighter Paramedic Alex Gonzalez-11 years.

    Attorney Report

    Morris reported that Board Attorney Salzman has indicated that he will soon be taking depositions in the Darren White lawsuit and will probably come to the area to do them. White filed a civil lawsuit in November 2015 against the district alleging breach of contract. Attorney Andrew Salzman, of Unice Salzman Jensen of Trinity, FL, serves as the district’s general and labor attorney.

    Union Agreements

    The board unanimously approved (with Wood absent) two memorandums of understanding with the union. One of those brought fire prevention specialists into the rank and file District 3 bargaining unit. The other approved memorandum added grandparents to the category of immediate family for funeral family leave.

    Morris said that her research regarding the definition of immediate family showed that it is not well defined. She added that with a shift to younger staff, the district is adding 8 people with 8 potential family funeral leaves for each employee.

    Love explained that his primary reason to approve the request is that administrative employees include grandparents for funeral family leave and he would like to work toward equalizing benefits among all district employees.

    John Pohland questioned the wisdom of that citing there are different jobs and different careers, so benefits do not need to be identical.

    During Commissioner Remarks, Morris shared that she was very upset about the possibility of not having fireworks for the 4th of July but was glad that enough money had been raised for the 4th. She was concerned that any extra funds were being put toward New Year’s Eve fireworks, when most people are inebriated by the time they’re set off at midnight.

    “If we have any influence at all…I think 4th of July should take preference.”

    Ted Schindler added that he likes both events.

    “It’s an opportunity for us to get fees for both events and I’m looking for fees because we have expenses.”

    The next Fire Board meeting will be held at 10am June 7, 2016 at Station 31, 3043 Estero Blvd.
    Missy Layfield