Commission hears of new fire truck, debates pay increase
The Sanibel Fire and Rescue District’s commission received an update on the newest fire truck, expected to be in service in January, as well as discussed a possible compensation increase for its three members at its recent meeting.
On Dec. 11, Fire Chief Matt Scott reported that the district’s new Sutphen S3 model pump truck currently is located at South Florida Emergency Vehicles for its final equipment installation.
“I’m hoping we see that truck by the end of next week,” he said.
Scott added that the district is on track to have it in operation by Jan. 1 as planned.
The apparatus will be used by and housed at Station 172.
“They designed it to be the exact same thing,” he said of the new truck in comparison to the Sutphen SL75 Aerial Ladder truck that the district acquired in August 2018 for Station 171. “It is a twin.”
Like the ladder truck, crew members formed a group to design the pump truck to fit their needs.
The new truck cost $460,000, with the funds allocated in the district’s 2018-2019 budget.
Also at the meeting, Commissioners Bruce Cochrane, Jerry Muench and Richard McCurry held a discussion about a possible raise in compensation for the commission. Before they began debating the subject, Scott provided the members with a list of the compensations for 11 area fire commissions.
“So you have a list of who pays what,” he said.
According to the list, Tice comes in at the lowest with $3,000 allocated annually, while Lehigh Acres, North Fort Myers, Estero, Iona-McGregor and Fort Myers Beach are on the high end at $6,000. In comparison, Sanibel allocates $1,450 annually, which is divided among the commission as is practice.
“I just feel, as a commissioner, I’m lagging behind the rest of our brethren in Lee County,” Cochrane, who broached the idea of having a discussion about compensation at last month’s meeting, said.
He noted that Sanibel is a fully professional district now with no volunteers, and that the commissioners work with a large budget for a district serving a mostly non-resident tax base.
“So I’m working for a lot of people who couldn’t do my job,” Cochrane said, noting that he and McCurry run their own businesses and serving as a commissioner takes time away from that.
“I think it would be fair to receive a compensation (increase),” he said.
McCurry asked what he would propose in terms of a number.
Cochrane suggested $200 to $250 monthly a $2,400 to $3,000 annual budget increase.
“That would still put you below others,” McCurry responded, referring to the other fire commissions.
Cochrane acknowledged that, but explained that he simply supports any hike.
Upon questioning, district officials confirmed for Muench it would require a unanimous vote to pass.
“You guys know how I feel,” he said addressing the others.
Muench explained that he voted years ago to increase the allotment to where it is today.
“We thought that was fair. It wasn’t a lot of money, but it was fair,” he said, explaining that the current proposed raise is “excessive” and he did not take up the job of fire commissioner for financial gain.
“I’m just giving back,” Muench said. “That’s all there is to it.”
After some back-and-forth discussions, he declined to budge.
“I just can’t do this guys. I can’t vote for it,” Muench said. “It’s rare that I go against you guys. I just have to hold onto my principle.”
“I think it’s adequate,” he added of the present compensation.
The commission declined to call for a motion and vote.
After the meeting, Cochrane shared his view on the outcome.
“It was no big surprise,” he said.
McCurry explained that he was not opposed to taking a raise, but was not pushing for it.
“It can come up later,” he added of discussing the subject again down the road.
Also during the meeting, the commission voted 3-0 to amend the existing campfire permit approved through the district and establish a fee schedule that includes a $100 refundable clean-up deposit.
IN OTHER NEWS
– Scott reported the promotion of Firefighter-Paramedic Anthony Fontaine to lieutenant.
– The following personnel were recognized for their years of service: Division Chief Tim Barrett for 21 years; Capt. Chris Jackson for 16 years; Firefighter Todd Walter for four years; and Firefighter Arian Moore for three years.
– The district responded to 120 calls for service in November, compared to 130 calls during the same month last year.