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Fire district commissioners unanimously support two resolutions

By Staff | Mar 19, 2019

TIFFANY REPECKI Captiva Island Fire Control District Fire Chief Jeff explains to the board his plan for incorporating annual inspections with the pre-incident planning at the March 12 meeting.

The Captiva Island Fire Control District’s board approved the sale of the agency’s WaveRunner at its recently meeting now that it has a fire and rescue vessel, plus an unrelated line of credit renewal.

On March 12, the board voted 2-0 in favor of the proposed resolutions.

Commissioners C.W. Kilgore and Sherrill Sims approved the sale of the 2010 Yahama VX Cruiser, which the district bought with a grant from the West Coast Inland Navigation District. Fire Chief Jeff Pawul explained that the WaveRunner is “past its useful life” and currently valued at under $5,000.

Commissioner Robert Brace had an excused absence from the meeting.

The VX Cruiser will be resold for $3,000 to a waiting buyer.

Also at the meeting, Kilgore and Sims approved a line of credit renewal with Centennial Bank in the amount of $200,000. Pawul explained that the funds would be available in case of an emergency.

“This is just renewing the same thing we’ve always had,” he said prior to the vote.

Pawul reported to the board that he plans to make changes to how the district conducts its annual inspections. Currently, there is one lieutenant who is tasked with overseeing all the inspections.

“There’s way too many for one person to keep up with outside of their regular job,” he said.

Pawul explained that the inspections will now be distributed among all of the personnel via shifts by combining them with the required pre-incident planning that is now taking place separately. So, when a building is surveyed in preparation for an emergency like a fire, staff will conduct the inspection too.

If a violation or possible violation is identified, the lieutenant will follow up.

He added that the shifts will rotate zones each year so they are not stuck with the same buildings.

Both commissioners voiced support for the plan.

“I really like the idea of getting everybody exposed to those commercial buildings,” Kilgore said, referring to all of the personnel being familiar with the buildings’ layouts. “They’re a monster.”

During the meeting, Pawul also provided an update to the board on the district’s insurance and liabilities on its vehicles, equipment and such. Last month, he reported that he was going to work with the insurance company to see if increasing the deductible could save the district some money.

“It changed it about 4 percent,” Pawul said.

“I was hoping that dollar amount was going to be greater,” he added.

Pawul explained that the district’s deductible was set at the lowest – $250. He had the company increase it to $2,000. Despite the small savings, Pawul explained that he believes the change is worth it because if a radio or something minor breaks, the district is unlikely to file a claim for it. The funds to replace the equipment are likely to come from the repair and maintenance line item in the budget.

“I see our insurance as geared for more major incidents,” he said, noting that such big claims are not regular occurrences. “This is your homeowner’s policy, plus vehicle insurance and cyber security.”

Meanwhile, the district can be saving money on its premium payment.

The board directed Pawul to draw up a proposal to present.

Also at the meeting, Pawul shared with the commissioners how impact fees work for the district. Within the last two years, it has only received about $800 because the fees are for “new construction,” but a new house built on a property that had an existing home is not considered new construction.

“We don’t get anything out of that,” he said of teardowns and buildups on-island.

“They say it’s not adding more impact to the island’s services,” he added of the county.

Pawul pointed out, however, that emergency services provided to a 1,000-square-foot home versus emergency services provided to a 10,000-square-foot home are different – hence more impact.

He added that other Southwest Florida fire districts and departments do get impact fees in cases of teardowns and buildups, and the revenue stream pays for new equipment and even apparatus.

Pawul also provided an update on a child drowning call from Nov. 22 at the pool at the South Seas Island Resort. The family sent the district a thank you card with pictures of their boy and his siblings.

He noted that the card made the crew’s day.

“We don’t always know the outcome. We don’t usually know what happens,” Pawul said.

“These cards are so touching when they come in,” Sims added.

She also passed along thanks to the chief and district on behalf of the families of two other victims from recent separate incidents. Both victims made it through as a result of the crew’s hard work.

“We are so lucky to live on this island,” Sims said. “You’ve got a lot to be proud of of your station.”


– Pawul reported that this year’s annual MDA Fill the Boot drive, held March 8-10, raised $5,664 – more than the $3,463 raised in 2018. As of the meeting, about $232,483 had been raised in Lee County.

– Pawul reported that the crews were doing boat training that week with the U.S. Coastguard.

“They said the instructors are super knowledgeable,” he said.

The crews split their days between classroom instruction and on-the-water training.

– Pawul reported that the district’s reserve engine recently needed six new tires and two rims.

So far this year, $9,000 has been put into the truck for repairs and maintenance.

Kilgore questioned how old the engine is now.

“It’s going on nine years,” Pawul said.

“Repairs and maintenance is one of those things you budget for,” he added. “But it is what it is.”

– There were 35 incidents calls in February, matching the total for the prior month.