At their July meeting on Tuesday evening, the Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District (FMBFCD) Board of Commissioners and Fire Chief Matthew Love honored several district staff plus two Lee County Sheriff Office (LCSO) deputies.
Chief Love began by explaining to the crowd gathered for the meeting that on July 10th, the district received an Emergency Medical Service (EMS) call for a person in cardiac arrest. When the ambulance arrived, LCSO deputies were already on site and had begun CPR.
“They worked with our crew and were able to restore spontaneous circulation. I want to recognize both the deputies and our crew,” Love said. “They truly painted a picture of what Public Safety looks like. It isn’t the fire patch or the sheriff patch. It’s a team approach…our public servants are just that – we all respond to people who need help!”
LCSO Deputies Christopher Fine and Chad Heinemann were recognized along with FMBFCD Engineer Cody Chilson, Engineer Brad Hartman, Firefighters Kyra Adams, Chris Armiger and Darwin Adames.
Cody Chilson was also recognized as Firefighter of the Year, a peer selection award announced in April.
Two firefighters were promoted from Firefighter to Engineer: Bradley Hartman and Andres Vila. Love explained the role of an engineer in the district as being one who is responsible for much more than merely getting the truck and crew to the location of a fire or EMS call. Engineers assist in analyzing a fire and are responsible for the calculations that assure the right amount of water is provided to firefighters in a fire situation, among other duties.
During the Chief’s report, Love noted the efforts of the Prevention and EMS teams who spent all day working the 4th of July event on the beach. He also reported that the district passed an unannounced June EMS inspection by the Florida Division of EMS with an “Outstanding” rating. Love recognized years of service for two district employees: Firefighter Troy Mesick-16 years and Engineer Jennifer Gordon-10 years.
A short presentation by Chief Love on how the work environment for firefighters has changed in the last few decades touched on several ways in which fires have become more dangerous.
While the average home size has grown from about 1600 square feet in 1973 to 2500 sq. ft. in 2008, housing lots have shrunk about 13%. “Bigger houses on smaller lots,” Love emphasized. And the materials that fill those houses have changed also. While furnishings used to be made of wood and natural fibers, it is now made up of plastics and materials containing a variety of chemicals. Combined with the trend toward open floor plans, fires burn faster and give off more toxic fumes.
Love said that while structure fires have decreased by 53% since the late 1970’s, the firefighter death rate has risen dramatically. To emphasize the point, he shared a video demonstration comparing the time it takes a ‘legacy’ room vs. a ‘modern’ room to reach flashover, or the point at which the entire room’s furnishings combusts. The legacy room took 30 minutes; the modern one 3 minutes 40 seconds.
Summarizing, Love said that these changes have led to a focus on firefighter training and experience in fire progression, behavior and structural integrity.
The Board of Commissioners authorized Love to purchase budgeted technology for the district, providing that he shares the details of the purchase and bids with Commissioner Ted Schindler prior to purchase.
They also approved a Medical Director contract with the district’s current Medical Director Dr. Joseph Lemmons, DO through October 6, 2018 at a cost of $2,666.67/month.
Larry Wood agreed to serve on the audit committee, tasked with seeking proposals to perform the annual audit for the district.
The board will set the two required Budget Hearings and the districts Truth in Millage (TRIM) tax rate at their budget workshops scheduled on Thursday, July 21 and Wednesday, July 27, both at 10am at Station 31, 3043 Estero Blvd. The tentative dates for the hearings are September 15 and September 28, both at 6pm.