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District, city talk options for station

By Staff | Apr 16, 2019

PHOTO PROVIDED A fire on March 22 in the Sandalfoot Beachfront Condominium resulted in 80,000 in damages.

An update on talks with the city about the possibility of a third fire station, a visit from a medical call patient and information shared about a condo fire all transpired at the fire district’s recent meeting.

On April 10, Sanibel Fire and Rescue District Commissioner Jerry Muench reported that he had recently met with Sanibel officials, including City Manager Judie Zimomra and Police Chief William Dalton, to discuss what options the district has for building a new station on the island’s east end.

At last month’s meeting, the commission was presented with a report on response times around the island. Compiled by district staff as requested by the commission, the data revealed that the majority of the calls to the east are taking eight minutes to 10 minutes substantially longer than to other areas.

As part of the report, staff set up a mock third station near the Dairy Queen on Periwinkle Way and reran the numbers using the model. Response times in the area dropped to four minutes or under.

“We tried to explain to them what our needs are,” Muench said of his recent meeting with the city, which Fire Chief Matt Scott also attended. “That we need better coverage on that east end.”

PHOTO PROVIDED A fire on March 22 in the Sandalfoot Beachfront Condominium resulted in 80,000 in damages.

He explained that they looked at and discussed potential parcels in the area, including a property located near Periwinkle and Bailey Road. Muench added that the talk was strictly fact finding.

“This was all preliminary,” he said. “Nothing is cast in stone.”

Muench noted that available undeveloped property on the east end is limited and most of the parcels, like the one at Periwinkle and Bailey, are zoned as conservation land, so it would require rezoning.

Scott reported that as it was explained to them, the city council would have to approve a measure for placement on a ballot to release a parcel zoned as such, then the voters would decide in an election.

“It’s up to the council right now, from my understanding,” Muench said.

TIFFANY REPECKI The Sanibel Fire and Rescue District's commissioners congratulate district staff on the success and turnout at its annual Open House held recently.

He added that a new station would be a tax increase, but it would also drop the district’s ISO rating.

“But, how do you put a price on life?” Muench asked.

Also during the meeting, resident Dr. Stan Gordon shared his experience as a patient.

On April 4 at about 3:30 p.m., a crew responded to a home on Punta Caloosa Court for a call about chest pains. On arrival, Gordon reported having chest pressure and there were signs of a possible heart attack. The crew began advanced life support on him and immediately dispatched for the helicopter.

“So we could get him to the hospital as quick as possible,” a crew member at the meeting said.

Within one minute of getting Gordon to the helicopter pad, the transport arrived.

“The timing was just right,” the crew member said.

It turned out Gordon had an anterior heart attack, which resulted in three coronary stents.

“I’m so grateful,” the 63-year-old retired dentist, who attended the meeting, said. “I’m a lover of God and lover of this life.”

He praised the perfection in which the crew carried out its protocols and its professionalism.

“They were here just unbelievably fast,” Gordon said. “I’m so grateful for what you guys do.”

District administrators noted for the commissioners that the same crew responded to another call regarding chest pains on March 26 and it devolved into cardiac arrest. The crew worked tirelessly on the patient for nearly 30 minutes and brought him back. He was in intensive care for over a week.

Assistant Fire Chief William Briscoe reported that crews responded to a kitchen fire on March 22 at 6:30 p.m. at 671 East Gulf Drive, Unit 4C2, located in the Sandalfoot Beachfront Condominium.

It appears to have started from a backpack or laundry being placed on a hot or still-hot stove.

He reported that most of the fire damage was contained to the kitchen area, but the unit sustained smoke damage throughout for a total of approximately $80,000 in damages. In addition, the unit below it sustained water damage as a result of the incident in the amount of about $20,000.

Scott told the commission that the new hire, Bryan Clement, started on April 2.

“He is on shift, working out well, getting along with everybody,” he said.

Training Officer Capt. Tim Barrett agreed.

“He seems to be a really good guy,” he said. “Really appreciates what he has.”

Fire Marshal Rick Tassoni reported that IL Cielo’s over $1 million in renovation plans are in.

“I got the plans for that,” he said. “The city approved that yesterday.”

It is estimating that the project will take about six months.

Tassoni also noted that Gene’s Books’ newest building is almost done.

“It’s really a top-notch building,” he said.

The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is expected to begin work on the bottom floor of its renovation within the next month, and the Sanibel Sunset Beach Resort is still working on its design.

Barrett told the commissioners that the fire crews trained on infectious diseases and bio-hazardous waste this month. Last month they trained on pediatrics, and the district recently received new pediatric age-categorized cardiac arrest kits to enable the crews to aid patients more efficiently, saving time.

He added that the crews trained on electric vehicle rescues.

“Apparently, there’s a lot of them out here on the island,” Barrett said.


– Briscoe reported that the foundation for the replacement radio tower is finished.

– The following employees were recognized for their years of service to the district: Firefighter-paramedic Anthony Fontaine for nine years; and firefighter-paramedic Shane Grant for nine years.

– There were 193 calls for service last month, as compared to 190 in March 2018. So far this year, the district has responded to 566 calls for service.