On Tuesday evening, the Fire Board meeting room was packed with excited family members of new district staff and recipients of the district’s annual ‘Of the Year” Awards.
New Fire Chief Matthew Love, due to be sworn in, was unable to attend the meeting due to a cancelled flight. He participated in the meeting via phone.
Assistant Chief Tom May welcomed and swore in six new district staff: Robert Almodovar-Cruz, Hermes Llaser, Michael Schuberth, John Cunningham, Ryan Midolo and Layne Tal. Chief Love added his congratulations to the new district firefighters.
“I’m really proud of you. This is a big day for you,” Love said. “This is not just a job or a career, you are starting something that will change your life. On behalf of our Fort Myers Beach district, the state and national fire service, I want to congratulate each one of you and welcome you to our family.”
May then announced the annual awards, explaining that the members of the district select the winners of these awards. Named Officer of the Year was Joseph Devito; Paramedic of the year was Robert Ponte; Firefighter of the Year – Cody Chilson and Community Partner of the Year – Robyn Schuckert, co-owner of Bayside Grille.
Robert Ponte received his award at the meeting. The other winners will be presented with their awards at a later date.
The Chief’s Report included recognition of a number of district staff marking anniversaries of their service to the district: Battalion Chief Pete Micelli-28 years; Firefighter Kyra Adams-10 years; Firefighter David Beers-10 years; Engineer Cody Childson-9 years; Asst. Chief Tom May-3 years and Admin. Asst. Angie Snyder-3 years.
February Emergency Response Data was released. Call volume was 259, down 13 from February 2015; 159 patients were transported and average response time was 06:55. March saw call volume of 347, down 16 from March 2015 with 194 patients transported and an average response time of 06:55.
The new emergency rapid response vehicle is not yet in service and will be receiving some additional modifications noted during training on the vehicle.
Tammy Peacock ran down a list of policies and procedures that have been amended or created in the past year, including Employee of the Year awards, Personal Paid Leave, Tobacco-free Program, Military Leave and Light Duty.
The board decided to cancel their June 7th meeting after realizing that the Fire Chief and Board Chair would both be out of town at the FSDA conference.
During Commissioner Items, Bob Raymond urged the board to pay attention to development plans on San Carlos Island and how it might affect the district.
“We need more of a presence in Lee County Planning. There’s too much that’s going to happen. If we don’t have a plan we’ll be in deep sneakers.”
Chief Love said he had discussed the issue with Chief Martin and agreed they need to be aware of what the district needs to cover any new buildings and make sure the costs don’t fall on current taxpayers.
John Pohland raised the question of purchasing, saying that with lots of rolling stock, often additional items are suggested that run up the bill. Chair Carol Morris added that the board needs a Purchasing Committee.
“We just looked at buying a computer for the Chief,” Pohland said. “I looked at it and said, ‘I just bought one of those at Costco for $700.’”
Larry Wood urged the board to allow the new chief to make those decisions.
“That responsibility lies with the Chief, not us. We set a budget and then it’s up to the Chief…I have every confidence that he’ll be able to manage the budget. It’s his responsibility to live within that budget and I don’t want to micromanage.”
The next meting of the Fire Board will be May 3, 2016 at 10am at Station 31, 3043 Estero Blvd, Fort Myers Beach.
PIC 1: New firefighters of the Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District are shown here with Assistant Chief Tom May (center). From left: Hermes Llaser, Robert Almodovar-Cruz, Ryan Midolo, John Cunningham, Michael Schuberth and Layne Tal.
PIC 2: Firefighter/Paramedic Robert Ponte receives his Paramedic of the Year award from Assistant Chief Tom May.