Fire Board Discusses Dispatch Times

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The Board of Commissioners of the Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District held a combined work session and regular meeting on Tuesday, August 15, 2017 in the Beach Library Community Room.

The board has moved all its August and September meetings to the library, including Budget hearings, following some water damage to the Station 31 meeting room from a heavy downpour recently.

Four commissioners were present: Chair Carol Morris, Treasurer Bob Raymond, Larry Wood and Ron Fleming.

The work session meeting began at 4pm with the agreement to move the Chief’s Report, Attorney Report and Treasurer’s Report from the 6pm regular monthly meeting agenda to the earlier work session and meeting.

During the Chief’s Report, Fire Chief Matthew Love told the board that LeeFlight, the air medical service provided by Lee County brought a Life Flight helicopter to the ball field at Bay Oaks Recreation Center for FMB district staff training. Love recognized two district staff members with July service anniversaries: Firefighter Troy Mesick – 17 years and Engineer Jen Gordon – 11 years.

New Chief of Operations

Beginning on September 11th, the district will have a new Executive Assistant Fire Chief of Operations — Scott Wirth. Chief Wirth brings 28 years experience to the district, including serving as the Operations Chief of the Fort Myers Fire District. His many years of experience have included responses to multi-alarm fires, haz-mat incidents, mass casualty incidents and marine emergencies. Wirth has also been an active community volunteer working with Habitat for Humanity and other volunteer projects. Wirth will be responsible for A, B and C shifts as well as working with the Division Chief/Medical Officer Randy Kraus and the Assistant Chief of Training, a position that is expected to be filled soon.

Chief Love mentioned that he and some of the commissioners were given a tour of the Emergency Operations and Dispatch Center last week. He also said that the incident response times, which have, since March, not been reflecting the actual time from dispatch to arrival of the first responders, have been corrected. Response times for March – June were actually between 4:37 and 4:58. Previously reported response times for those months were 5:48 — 6:57.

“Response times are actually in the 4 minute area, as we are accustomed to,” said Love.

In July, there were 286 incidents: 77% EMS, 17% Good Intent, 5% Service and 1% Fire. ‘Good Intent ‘includes situations where someone calls 911 and it isn’t actually an emergency. The ‘Service’ category includes calls for help that are not EMS or fire related. The average response time for the first arriving unit is 4:29.

Chair Carol Morris asked how long call processing at the dispatch center takes and Love said the standard is under a minute. He clarified that while the dispatch center is on the phone asking questions of the caller, they have already dispatched the appropriate assistance and are gathering important information that they will share with the responding unit.

Morris suggested that offering tours of the Operations Center might reduce some concerns residents have about how calls are handled.

Ron Fleming said that as one of 17 fire districts in the county using the dispatch center, they don’t need or want to give group tours.

The 2017-2018 proposed budget had no changes to discuss according to Love. Quotes for personal services, such as health care, were received and the net effect is zero.

When Morris asked if Love thought he could bring the budget numbers down, he replied in the negative. Fleming spoke up supporting the 2.5800 mil rate, the same as the current tax rate.

“We’re in the second year of Chief Love’s 5-year plan…To change course in the middle of the stream would be unwise,” he said.

Both Bob Raymond and Larry Wood agreed with Fleming.

In other business, the board agreed to cancel their September 5th work session and authorize Love to create Commissioner’s ID cards.

During Public Comment John Pohland told the board that the 40 members of CERT (Citizen Emergency Response Team) were being trained and retrained by Chief Love in firefighting, search and rescue, CPR and more. He told the board that CERT brings a variety of skills that would be of use in an emergency.

The first Budget Hearing for the FMB Fire District will be held on Monday, September 14th at 5:05pm in the Beach Library 3rd floor Community Room. The final hearing is tentatively set for Monday, September 28th at 5:05pm in the same location. The current budget and several years of past budgets are available now on the Fire District’s website. The proposed 2017-2018 budget will be available prior to the first hearing at FMBfire.org

 

Missy Layfield