Chief Love Declines Raise

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Fire Chief a Perfect ‘5’

In their first meeting since March 3, the Fort Myers Beach Fire District Board of Commissioners worked through a lengthy agenda over more than three hours on Wednesday, May 13, 2020. The annual evaluation of Fire Chief Matthew Love and consideration of a salary adjustment were both addressed, with the Fire Chief earning a solid 5 out of 5 rating from each commissioner, but declining any salary increase.

Using the Zoom virtual meeting platform, all four commissioners were present: Chair Larry Wood, Vice-Chair Ron Fleming, Secretary/ Treasurer John Bennett and Commissioner Jacki Liszak. Seat One remains vacant following the resignation of Bob Raymond in late February. Due to COVID-19 concerns, the Fire Board cancelled their March 25 and April 15 meetings.

Chief Love provided a summary of the department’s COVID-19 related actions. A departmental Declaration of Emergency allowed the flexibility to meet changing needs within the department. All stations and the administration offices have been closed to the public. Most inspections have been rescheduled and a regular cleaning schedule adopted for stations, ambulances and vehicles. Informational videos have been made available via the department’s social media outlets and they now have a YouTube channel with those videos. Love explained that about $28,000 in additional costs to the district have been incurred with several possibilities of recovering those costs via FEMA, grants or one of the stimulus packages.

Despite receiving two applications from candidates, the board decided to re-issue their call for candidates to fill Seat One until the November election. The initial two candidates will not need to reapply. The board unanimously agreed to repost the position for another 30 days. Details will be available on the Fire Department’s website fmbfire.org  The Fire Board hopes to be able to interview candidates at their next meeting on June 24.

Perfect Score

As the board began discussing their evaluation scores for Chief Love in the seven different job responsibility areas, it quickly became apparent that they were all quite pleased with his job performance over the past year, as they each gave him scores of 5 out of 5 for every area. “He leads by example,” said Liszak, “providing the tools and resources his team needs to do the job.” “He not only has updated the district’s Strategic Plan,” said Wood,” he uses the plan.”

“We plan for a hurricane,” said Fleming. “This (COVID-19) is worse, but because of his disaster preparedness leadership, the department was able to adapt.” “He’s done an excellent job of keeping the public informed,” added Bennett.

Love gave credit to department staff, “I have a team that is just phenomenal!”

Before the board moved into discussions about a salary increase or cost-of-living adjustment, Wood read a letter from Love asking them to take no action on any sort of salary increase.

“Right now our community is experiencing unprecedented change,” he wrote. “Many community members are hurting, whether from the loss of employment, the loss of their business, or the many contributing factors of the Coronavirus Pandemic. I feel that this is the time to honor our community by refraining from salary adjustments for my position.”

After a brief discussion over whether to defer the adjustment to late October, or offer a cost-of-living adjustment, Wood suggested they honor his request and take no action and the board agreed.

Love then gave a mid-year budget update, explaining to the board where the district stands financially at the six-month mark, with the vast majority of annual revenue already received and just over half of the expenses paid out.

Promotions

Chief Love recognized three promotions: Lt. Cody Chilson to Captain II; Executive Assistant Fire Chief Scott Wirth to Assistant Chief; and Vincent DiCristofalo from Assistant Chief of Training, Education & Safety to Executive Assistant Fire Chief. Love explained that Assistant Chief Wirth would be serving as Project Manager for the Station 31 project, while maintaining some logistical responsibility for Operations and Chief DiCristofalo would continue to manage training responsibilities along with Operations oversight.

The donation of face masks for department staff by Brian Podlasek and Sue Rowan, was noted by Love, “I can’t thank them enough!”

The next Fire Board meeting will be held on June 24 at 6pm. The details and agenda of that meeting will be announced at fmbfire.org