The Board of Commissioners of the Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District held their final meeting of 2015 on Tuesday evening, approving the purchase of an All-Terrain Emergency Response Vehicle, sprinklers for Station 31 and hearing an update on the search for a new Fire Chief. They also approved the reading of a new Fire Safety Ordinance that will require inspections for many rental properties.
Division Chief and Fire Marshal Ron Martin presented options for the purchase of a new emergency response vehicle for use on the beach and to rapidly reach Emergency Medical response calls in the midst of road construction on Fort Myers Beach. Explaining that there are currently only seven beach access points that can accommodate the district’s beach vehicle, a pick up truck, the special emergency response vehicle will be able to access the beach at 15 beach accesses.
The board discussed the four options, before settling on the ASAP MedStat 500 at a cost of $41,298.
Division Chief and Fire Marshal Ron Martin then asked for and was granted approval of a bid to install sprinklers in Station 31 at a cost of $7595.
Fire Safety Ordinance
Martin then requested approval of the latest draft of a Fire Safety Ordinance focused on short-term rental properties in the district. Currently 1-2 family structures do not require any fire safety inspection. Following the death of Joanne Finney in a Memorial Day weekend fire in a rental duplex, Martin has been working on drafting an ordinance that will require registration and inspection of non-owner occupied short-term rentals in 1-2 family structures. Each draft brought to the board has resulted in changes and Tuesday’s draft was no different. At Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners asked that the requirement to post address numbers that are at least 6” tall be dropped, as well as any owner-occupied single family homes even if they rent out rooms. After approving a draft with those changes, Chair Carol Morris indicated that she would send it to the board’s attorney for his opinion. Once the attorney approves the draft, the board will advertise the ordinance and proceed with hearings for final approval.
The board set their 2016 meetings that will continue to be at 10am the first Tuesday of the month and 6pm the third Tuesday of the month. All meetings except the January 5th meeting will be held at Station 31. The January 5th meeting will be held at Town Hall.
During the Chief’s report, Acting Chief Tom May provided the Commissioners with what he described as the top six pressing issues for the new Fire Chief upon his arrival. Indicating that he has been meeting with both labor and administration members to winnow the list to six, he mentioned the development of a Comprehensive Strategic Plan, differentiation of member responsibilities, development of a mission and vision and accreditation among others.
Human Resource Director Tammy Peacock recognized nine district members for their years of service:
FF/Engineer John May-29 years
Capt. Terry Brunson-15 years
Capt. Jake Lamb-14 years
Capt. Joe Reed-14years
DC/Fire Marshal Ron Martin-12 years
FF Shaun Jensen-7 years
Eng. Stephen Reynaert-7 years
Eng. Paul Russell-7 years
FP Specialist Bill Genevrino-3 years
New Fire Chief
Jim Steffens of JTS Association, Inc, reported on the hiring process for the district’s new Fire Chief. JTS advertised the position, and then screened the 40 applicants, choosing 15 semi-finalists, who were invited to attend interviews with a community committee. Twelve applicants chose to come to the district at their own expense for the interviews. A committee made up of district residents Tim Cherry, President of FMB Youth Soccer; Maureen Rischitelli, Director of Administrative Services for the Town of Fort Myers Beach; Al Durrett owner of Fish Tale Marina and Santini Marina Plaza; John Lallo, owner of Pete’s Time Out and Vice President of the Time Square Merchant and Event Association; Fire Captain John Duncan, President of Local 1826 plus two area Fire Chiefs – Kingman Schuldt (Greater Naples) and William Lombardo (South Trail) then chose the top four finalists who have been invited back to the district for board and staff interviews and the final selection process on Jan 4th & 5th.
The finalists for the Fire Chief position in the Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District are: Matthew Love of Colorado Springs, CO, Ron Parrish of Port St. Lucie, FL, Michael Tucker of Oxford, FL and Terrence Vavra of Lake Zurich, IL. See the sidebar for more information on the finalists.
“I complement the hard work that the (community) committee did earlier this month and have sent them all letters thanking them. They worked very hard and produced the four best of the 12 that were interviewed.”
Steffens ran through the finalist’s schedule for Jan 4-5 and requested that the board consider offering them some compensation for travel costs, as this will be the second trip to Fort Myers Beach for the finalists. The board agreed to pay for their hotel rooms and provide $150 to offset travel expenses.
Fire Chief Finalists
A native of Colorado, Love has served in emergency services since 1997 and with the Cimarron Hills, Colorado Fire Department, where he is currently the Fire Chief, since 2008. Prior to that he served 11 years with the Colorado Springs Fire Department. His career has been focused on Firefighter training and he is a recurring speaker for the U.S. Air Force Academy on character and leadership.
A Florida native, Parrish joined the St. Lucie County Fire District in 1985 and has served as Chief since 2007. The emergency fire/rescue organization more than doubled in size during his tenure with the district. He has served as President of the Florida Fire Chiefs Association. Retiring in September 2015 as Fire Chief, he is currently serving as Public Safety Director for St. Lucie County.
With 29 years in the fire service, Mike Tucker has served as the Assistant Superintendent of the Florida State Fire College after retiring as Fire Chief of the Villages Public Safety Department in March 2014 where he served as Chief for 13 years. He was honored as Fire Chief of the Year by the Florida Fire Chiefs Association in 2011 and the Southeastern Association of Fire Chiefs in 2012.
After serving seven years as Fire Chief, Terry Vavra retired from the Buffalo Grove, Illinois Fire Department in February 2015. He has spent 39 years in the fire service, 28 of them with the Lisle-Woodridge Fire District. Both districts are in the metro Chicago area. He has taught a variety of firefighter safety classes on the state and federal level and is a Charter Member of the Fire Dept. Safety Officer’s Association.