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Firefighters union town hall meeting draws crowd

By Staff | Sep 19, 2010

The first-ever town hall hosted by the Cape Coral Professional Fire Fighters Union didn’t pack the Yacht Club full of people, but those who did attend had the opportunity to have some questions answered directly by firefighters.
Union President Mark Muerth said previously that he hoped the town hall would attract both supporters and non-supporters alike, but he was still happy with the turnout Saturday afternoon.
Muerth’s only regret was that more people who often criticize the fire department didn’t show up to ask some questions.
“We would have liked to see more non-supporters here today, but it’s going pretty much as we expected,” Muerth said. “Of course we would have liked to pack the house.”
The town hall’s purpose was not to rail against the proposed budget cuts that would see another $1.7 million sliced from the fire department’s payroll, Muerth said, but to try and educate the public on how the fire department operates.
He said firefighters often assume that the public understands their operations, and it was important for the department, and the union, to reach out to the public as much as possible.
And while Muerth fielded questions about topics ranging from the city’s ISO rating, to the fire boat which often draws the ire of residents, he did so mostly from those citizens who already are in full support of the city’s fire fighters.
Again, Muerth said the town hall could have benefited from those who have a negative view of the fire department.
“They could have walked out of here today with the same opinions, but at least we would have had the chance to answer some of their questions,” he said.
Former City Council woman Dolores Bertolini praised the efforts of the fire department, saying that her husband’s life was saved by the good work of its professionals.
“My husband wouldn’t be sitting here today if it weren’t for their efforts,” she said. “If you don’t know what services they provide, you need to find out.”
City Council will hold its final FY 2011 budget hearing on Tuesday, Sept 21, 5:05 p.m, at city hall.