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Sanibel fire proceeds on new vessel

By Staff | Oct 15, 2019

PHOTO PROVIDED A basic outline of what the Sanibel Fire and Rescue District's new 26-foot MetalCraft Interceptor will look like. As the district finalizes the purchase, upgrades and specific add-ons may be included.

The Sanibel Fire and Rescue District’s commission signed off on moving forward with the grant process and purchase of a new fire boat to replace the district’s existing Marine 171 vessel.

At the Oct. 9 meeting, the commissioners voted unanimously 3-0 for a resolution to enter into an agreement with the Lee County Commission for a West Coast Inland Navigation District subgrant for help funding the boat. The WCIND grant will total $150,000, which Sanibel fire then will match.

Sanibel’s portion has already been allocated as part of the 2019-2020 budget.

During the meeting, Firefighter-EMT Todd Walter explained that the boat design team researched several boat manufacturers and created a list of five finalists. They received quotes from each one and settled on a top pick after going over the specifications and deciding which met the district’s needs.

They selected a 26-foot MetalCraft Interceptor, with a twin outboard engine.

“It gives you more power, more speed,” he said, compared to the current vessel’s single one.

“In close quarter maneuvering, it gives you more maneuverability,” Walter added.

It will be a three-sided, partial cabin boat, versus the existing center console.

“That’s going to be one of the bigger upgrades for us,” he said. “We had no storage for our equipment and the crews were exposed to the elements (on the current vessel) – so it’s safer for the crew.”

Walter noted that it will enable the team to respond in worse weather in a safer manner.

“It’s going to be an aluminum boat, so it’ll last longer,” he said.

Walter explained that the manufacturer worked with the team on tailoring the specifications.

“The majority of our calls (on the water) are more medical,” he said, adding that there will be a dedicated section for the crew to provide care. “They put focus on a patient treatment area.”

“Those are going to the biggest benefits to us,” Walter added.

The basic baseline quote – there are options for upgrades and specific add-ons that the district will consider when finalizing the boat was quoted at about $275,000. The next vessel was $9,500 more.

“It’s the least expensive of all five,” he said.

Walter answered for the commission that the price would include decals and such.

“They will put all of that on for us,” he said.

Walter reported that it would take 180 days from placing the order to receive the vessel.

“We’re hoping to have that in by the end of this month,” he said of the purchase order, adding that the district would receive the new boat by the end of April or May. “We’ll have it for next summer.”

Sanibel’s current vessel is a 1997 “demo” model that was bought used in FY 2010-2011.

Also at the meeting, Fire Marshal Rick Tassoni provided an update on ongoing projects.

“We’ve got three projects down to the wire,” he said.

Tassoni named off BIG ARTS, the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum and Ceilo.

He estimated that BIG ARTS is about 70 percent completed, and the museum is about 60 percent finished. Ceilo is the closest to wrapping up with about 85 percent to 90 percent completion.

Tassoni also reported to the commission on the Fire Code Board of Appeals.

“We’re working on it right now,” he said.

The board rules on matters relating to the fire code and its enforcement. The members are appointed by the governing body of the jurisdiction and must be residents, but cannot be employees of the district.

Members are made up of individuals experienced in the following fields or professions: engineering or architectural design; general contracting; fire protection contracting; fire department operations or fire code enforcement; building code enforcement; legal; and general public. Each serves a three-year term.

Those interested in serving can contact the district at 239-472-5525.

Also during the meeting, Fire Chief Matt Scott reported that the union approved its new contract.

“The union did ratify the contract,” he said.

Effective Oct. 1, 2018, until Sept. 30, 2021, the changes were to Article 10.1, “Wages.” The new contract states that “for fiscal year 2019/2020, Appendix B-District Step-Plan dated October 2018 shall be updated to reflect a 4 percent increase.” The prior contract had called for a 2.5 percent increase.

It continues that “as of October 1, 2019, all employees due an increased ‘step’ shall move to the appropriate matrix location and applicable hourly wage. For fiscal year 2020-2021, Appendix B shall be updated to reflect a 2.5 percent increase, all employees due to ‘step’ shall do so as of October 1, 2020.”


– The following employees were recognized for their years of service to the district: Mary Hickey for 23 years; Firefighter Joe Nygaard for 18 years; Lt. John Murray for 18 years, who also is retiring at the end of the month; Firefighter John Reitenbach for 16 years; and Firefighter Craig Shelby for two years.

– The district responded to 125 calls for service in July, 98 in August and 112 in September.