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Fire district updates health insurance to address retirees’ spouses

By Staff | Feb 19, 2019

TIFFANY REPECKI Captiva Island Fire Control District Fire Chief Jeff Pawul, left, goes over the proposed changes to district's health insurance policy for retired employees and their spouses at the Feb. 12 meeting.

The Captiva Island Fire Control District’s commissioners approved a clarification to the department’s health insurance policy relating to retired employees and their spouses during its recent meeting.

On Feb. 12, the commission voted 3-0 to update the language of the policy.

The change does not create a new policy or extend coverages.

Prior to the vote, Fire Chief Jeff Pawul reiterated that the current policy was drafted in 2007 and unintentionally did not include language to address spousal coverage when an employee hits retirement age but their spouse has not. The policy, via the county, did not permit the spouses to be covered.

“It was not the intent when it was originally written,” he said.

At last month’s meeting, the commission gave Pawul the go ahead to work with the district’s attorney on drafting additional language that would address such situations and update the existing policy.

With the new language, retirees can stay on the district’s health insurance plan when they reach Medicare age, which enables their spouse to do the same. However, it will be at their own expense.

“They don’t have to do that,” Pawul said. “But, the option is in here for them to do that.”

He noted that the change does not cost the district any more money.

The new language will also apply to current employees when they reach retirement age.

“I feel that’s only fair to offer them the same option,” Pawul said of including them.

However, due to labor negotiation rules, it does not apply to union personnel.

“This does not cover them,” he said.

Also at the meeting, Pawul reported that he is reviewing the district’s insurance and liabilities on its vehicles and equipment. He explained that the goal is to reduce the premiums and save money.

“Just looking to change a few things in there,” Pawul said.

He added that he is not sure if adjusting the numbers will save any money at this point.

“We’ll see what they (the insurance company) comes back with,” Pawul said.

He plans to bring a few options before the commission once he knows.

At the meeting, Commissioner Sherrill Sims asked if the new boat has been used.

Pawul reported that no calls have required the use of the new vessel yet.

Commissioner C.W. Kilgore asked about the number of qualified boat operators per shift.

“We do have enough qualified operators, but not at the level they will be at,” Pawul said, explaining that the personnel have the basics of boating down, but more advanced training is still planned.

For example, March 11-15 the team with train with the U.S. Coastguard.

He noted that both fire and law enforcement take the training.

“It’s a great course,” Pawul said.

IN OTHER NEWS

– The district will hold its annual open house on March 6 at the fire station. Pawul explained that the department will pull the new boat from the marina and set it up in one bay for visitors to check out.

“We can back it in the apparatus bay and keep it on the trailer,” he said.

– The district will take part in the annual MDA Fill the Boot drive on March 8-10. Personnel will be stationed at the corner of Andy Rosse Lane and Captiva Drive to collect donations for the cause.

n The district’s annual audit is expected to begin on March 18.

n There were 35 calls in January, as compared to 36 calls during the same month in 2018.