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Possibility of LCSO crew relocating to fire station takes another step forward with commission’s nod

By Staff | Jul 30, 2019

TIFFANY REPECKI Captiva Island Fire Control District Commissioner Jeff Brown speaks with fellow Commissioners C.W. Kilgore and Sherrill Sims and Fire Chief Jeff Pawul, left, about possibly allowing the Lee County Sheriff's Office to relocate their island's administrative office into the fire station.

At its recent meeting, the Captiva Island Fire Control District’s commission gave the green light on proceeding with talks to provide office space at the station for the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

On July 23, the commissioners directed Fire Chief Jeff Pawul to move forward on discussions with LCSO officials about possibly letting the island’s deputies relocate their administrative office into the fire station. They gave the go-ahead after deciding on their parameters for the potential partnership.

Last month, Pawul reported to the commission that the LCSO had expressed an interest in moving its Captiva team out of its current office and into space at the station to be more visible for the public.

“I thought it might be a good thing for the community,” he told the board in June.

The commissioners had raised questions about if the office would be rented, if there is enough available parking to accommodate additional vehicles and if the LCSO would share the facilities, such as the showers. Logistics and concern over changes in the station’s dynamics were also debated.

It was decided that Pawul would talk to his own team to get their thoughts on the proposal.

In his update to the commission last week, he reported that the fire crew was fine with the idea.

“As long as they’re (deputies) not living here,” Pawul said of what his team’s overall comments were, adding that they included not using the station’s common area amenities, like the kitchen and TV.

Pawul noted for the commissioners that the LCSO crew members live on-island.

“Most of them go home,” he said of taking showers and eating lunch.

Pawul reiterated that the provided space would be used “for administrative purposes only” and that earlier discussions included providing “partial space” in the apparatus bay for the LCSO’s ATVs.

“We have the space,” he added.

It was also the plan to do a short agreement to try out the situation, such as 12 months.

Commissioner C.W. Kilgore thanked Pawul for checking with the fire crew.

“I’m OK with it,” he said of the idea based on their comments.

Commissioner Sherrill Sims agreed, explaining that if the staff was OK with it, then she was also.

Pawul next questioned the commission on if the LCSO should pay rent for the space.

“I think they should pay something,” Sims said at first.

Commissioner Jeffrey Brown suggested not charging for the trial year, but tracking the station’s expenses to see if any additional costs are incurred as a result of the LCSO using the space.

“If there’s no additional costs, I don’t see the sense of charging them,” he said.

“We’re not a for-profit,” Brown added.

Pawul pointed out that if the district does not charge for the first year, it could be difficult to get the LCSO to agree to pay rent any subsequent years, but that it is up to the commissioners to decide.

After some more discussion, the commission decided not to charge rent for the first trial year, but include in any agreement that it reserves the right to do so for future years if extra costs are incurred.

They also voiced opposition to weapons being stored at the fire station – and people under arrest.

“This isn’t a holding tank,” Pawul told the commissioners. “I made that very clear.”

Also at the meeting, Pawul brought up the contract for the station’s elevator, which is due for renewal next month. The current five-year contract covers “oil and grease” only and quarterly service visits.

“Anything that breaks is fully on us,” he said of repairs to the elevator.

Pawul noted that at least once or twice a year it has needed repairs, costing $1,500 to $3,000.

The current contract costs about $1,600 annually.

“Every year it goes up,” he said.

In comparison, Pawul explained that the district could consider the $3,700 flat-rate annual contract, which covers the service visits and maintenance, as well as any repairs. It also is a five-year term.

“I’m totally for going ahead and doing it,” Sims said of upgrading the contract.

Pawul noted that there is time to think on it and the input is informational.

Also during the meeting, Pawul reported that district staff are beginning the yearly inspections of businesses and commercial structures. There are about 350 commercial inspections on Captiva.

“We’re starting annual inspections on the island,” he said.

They were previously conducted by two staffers, but a third person is now helping out.

“All three of them are now certified,” Pawul said of the additional staffer.


– Pawul reported that staff held a meeting that morning with union representatives.

The union negotiations are ongoing.

– The commission voted 3-0 to approve the new Commissioner Handbook.

– Pawul reported that there were 45 incident calls in June.

“So it was a busy month,” he said. “A lot of water-related calls.”