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Commission OKs funding transfers and gets updates

By Staff | Mar 17, 2020

TIFFANY REPECKI Commissioner Bruce Cochrane, left and the other fire commissioners discuss resolutions to relocate funds from two of the Sanibel Fire and Rescue District's financial accounts at the March meeting.

The Sanibel Fire and Rescue District’s commission approved reallocating funds from two of the district’s financial accounts in two separate votes at its recent meeting, as well as heard updates on the district’s coronavirus (COVID-19) protocols, staff training and the new truck.

On March 11, Fire Commissioners Bruce Cochrane, Jerry Muench and Richard McCurry voted unanimously 3-0 for the district’s administration to transfer $1 million from the operational checking account into a flexible CD at Bank of the Islands. In a second resolution, it voted 3-0 on transferring $100,000 from the Florida Fixed Income trust account to a Florida Safe Investment pool account.

Prior to the vote on the first resolution, the commissioners discussed the reallocation of funds and questioned the reason for the change. Fire Chief Matt Scott and Chief Financial Officer Mary Hickey explained that the funding would end up in accounts that yield a higher return for the investments.

“We are getting a lot more by transferring that out,” Muench said.

McCurry asked if accounts with even higher return rates may be more appropriate.

“We try to make extra money for the district when we can,” Cochrane said, adding that the district however is not in the financial investor business and is not focused solely on making money.

Hickey noted that the accounts are FDIC insured.

Also at the meeting, Division Chief of Training Tim Barrett reported that the district has been communicating with the city, Lee County and state for updates regarding the coronavirus.

“Everyone is following the CDC’s recommendations, which is wash your hands,” he said.

Barrett explained that district staff are basically using the same protocols and precautions as with influenza or similar cases. Also, only one crew member makes initial contact to put a mask on the patient.

“We’re taking it seriously,” he said.

Medical training is ongoing and new firefighters are being training as pump operators, Barrett continued in his report. Rescue swim evaluations are scheduled at the end of the month for special operations. The district is also preparing for prescribed burn season with its task force partners.

“They really want to do a lot of burning this year,” he said.

“It’s nice to have a whole partnership to get that done,” Barrett added.

Also during the meeting, Deputy Fire Chief William Briscoe told the commissioners that the new Sutphen S3 model pump truck will be housed at Station 171 for the next few months so the crews can get acclimated to it. It will then go on to Station 172, where the truck will be housed permanently.

The pumper is a companion apparatus to the Sutphen SL75 Aerial Ladder truck at Station 171.

The district had planned to hold its Annual Open House for the community on March 21, along with the traditional housing ceremony for the new pumper, but the events have been canceled for now.

Briscoe also reported that the ISO team is scheduled to be on site on March 24.

“So we’re working on the paperwork for that now,” he said.

The ISO team examines data like the district’s numbers of calls and how quickly it responds to determine the community’s ISO fire score, which homeowner insurance companies utilize.

IN OTHER NEWS

– Larry Williams, who is working part-time for the district and will replace Division Chief of Prevention Rick Tassoni when he retires, reported that annual fire inspections are ongoing.

– The district responded to 169 calls for service last month, compared to 165 in February 2019.

“It is a lot,” Briscoe said, adding that approximately 60 percent of the calls were EMS related incidents and about 39 percent were fire related. “We only had one boat (incident) call, which was unusual.”