The December 6th meeting of the Board of Commissioners of the Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District began with the swearing in of new commissioner Ron Fleming and re-elected commissioner Larry Wood. Wood was appointed to fill a partial term in April 2015 and was recently elected without opposition. Ron Fleming was elected in the November election after running against incumbent John Pohland, who was also appointed in April 2015 to fill a vacant seat.
The board also re-elected the same officers as the past year: Chair Carol Morris, Vice-Chair Ted Schindler and Secretary-Treasurer Bob Raymond.
Meeting dates were discussed for 2017, but were tabled while Chief Love continues to work with the Town Manager on the possible use of Council Chambers for Fire Board meetings.
Fire Chief Matt Love addressed the district’s Long Term Facility Planning effort with the board, discussing an action item document that held 24 items related to facility planning. With several items including the term “assessment”, Chair Carol Morris expressed her concern about spending funds on the long term planning project now. Love responded with an assurance that there were no plans to spend funds at this time.
Vice-Chair Ted Schindler suggested that the building right next door to Station 31 is not fully occupied and should possibly be looked at as part of any Station 31 planning. Love agreed that all options should be investigated.
Morris asked about a training facility, noting that district staff had expressed frustration to her at needing to travel a distance to a training facility. She said that at one time years ago, when Station 32 was being considered, she had inquired about land on San Carlos Island.
“I talked to Bill Semmer, who owns a number of lots on San Carlos Island. I believe he said he was willing to give us a lot on Buttonwood…this was a while ago and I haven’t spoken to him recently about the land.”
Love indicated that he would keep the board apprised of the status of the planning project.
The only other agenda item was a presentation by Board Attorney Andrew Salzman of Unice Salzman Jensen of Trinity, Florida, making his first appearance at a Fire Board meeting since he was chosen to serve the board in October 2015. He was asked to meet with the board to discuss commissioner responsibilities.
Salzman provided a brief review of the Florida statutes that govern the actions of fire commissioners, with an emphasis on the role of the board vs. the role of the Fire Chief, emphasizing that the board determines policy and the chief administers that policy and is responsible for the day to day operation of the district. He encouraged the board to develop a Policy and Procedure Manual that would provide guidelines for board actions.
He also spent a good amount of time on Florida Open Records and Sunshine Law, urging commissioners to conduct all their district email communication using their district email accounts so that the district has ready access to those documents for public record searches.
The newest members of the board, Wood and Fleming urged the board to hold an all day retreat to cover Salzman’s topics and more in detail. Salzman will work with Chief Love to schedule a retreat.
During Commissioner remarks, Wood thanked district firefighters for their participation in the Spirit of the Holidays Dinner Auction in which their donation of three dinners sold for $1,100 each. He noted that the firefighters pay for the cost of the food for those dinners themselves and praised their efforts to help beach kids.
Chief Love announced that Information Technology Manager Joe LaCroix would be leaving the district to return to Tennessee this month.
The next meeting of the Board of Fire Commissioners will be Tuesday, December 20 at 6pm at Station 31, 3043 Estero Blvd, Fort Myers Beach.