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Chief provides fire commissioners with good news on two subjects

By Staff | Nov 16, 2018

TIFFANY REPECKI Captiva Island Fire Control District Fire Chief Jeff Pawul talks with Commissioner Sherrill Sims during the recent meeting. Also shown are Commissioners Robert Brace and C.W. Kilgore.

Captiva Island Fire Control District Fire Chief Jeff Pawul shared some big news with the commission at its recent meeting – the district’s new boat is done, and its VA incentive program was approved.

At the Nov. 13 meeting, Pawul reported that he was notified about the vessel last week.

“The boat is finished,” he told the commissioners.

It will be the district’s first-ever fire and rescue boat. In October 2017, it received a $300,000 grant from the West Coast Inland Navigation District, which encompasses Lee, Manatee, Sarasota and Charlotte counties, for the vessel. The funds cover the purchase and accessory items, like life rings.

About $260,000 and $270,000 is anticipated to be used, with the rest going back to the grant program.

Pawul explained that he was headed to Louisiana, where the manufacturer Metal Shark Boats is located, on Nov. 15 to take part in the full inspections of the vessel and required “sea trials.”

He also told the commission that he had recently met with the Sanibel Power Squadron to discuss training the crew in the basics of boating, with some adjustments to the material to make it relevant.

“We’re going to take their seamanship course,” Pawul said.

More advanced future training, like search and rescue, will be done with the U.S. Coast Guard.

“It’ll be awhile before we have a crew that’s qualified,” Commissioner C.W. Kilgore said.

Pawul agreed, adding that the crew needs to be “efficient” in its response – like second nature.

The chief also reported that the approval came through for the district to be a certified facility or institution under a program that equates training with education and allows for veterans to apply for VA benefit reimbursement for training on anything from books, to tuition and cost of living expenses.

He added that the program mainly applies to training during one’s first probationary year.

“It’s mainly for future (employees),” Pawul said.

He noted that two crew members fit that because the reimbursement could be retroactive.

“It’s exciting to get it done,” Pawul said of the district receiving the approval.

“It makes us a desirable place to do that kind of training,” he added.

The commission signed off on Clifton Larson Allen conducting the district’s annual audit again.

Commissioner Sherrill Sims asked about the cost for the services this year.

“You don’t know the price until the end,” Pawul said. “I’m sure there’s a standard price increase as in every year.”

In reviewing the district’s financial statements, the chief reported that the payment to the Lee County Property Appraiser had already been taken care of, plus staffing travel expenses for the new year.

He also pointed out that the lease payment on the district’s building had been paid.

In terms of incidents, it was a slower month than normal.

“We only had 28 for October,” Pawul said. “It was a quiet October.”

In October 2017, the district responded to 44 calls.

“It’s quite a bit less than last year,” he said.

The year-to-date totals comparing 2017 and 2018 were only off by two calls.

There were no structure fire calls in October, but there were seven water-related calls.

Pawul noted that June to September was slow due to the water quality issues.

“It’s started clearing up and everybody’s back out in full force,” he said.

The district recently signed off on the work that was going on at the ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa related to its temporary kitchen project. The work involved the fire suppression system and stairwell.

“It’s all done, it’s complete,” Pawul said. “They were happy, we’re happy. They’re compliant.”

IN OTHER NEWS

– The district participated in 281 training hours in October.

– There were 27 fire inspections last month.

– The department physicals for the crew had been set for the end of November or beginning of December. It appears that they will likely be taking place toward the end of December now.