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Captiva crews respond to two fires in weeks

By Staff | Jun 16, 2020

Fire Chief Jeff Pawul

The Captiva Island Fire Control District’s commission heard at its meeting about two fire calls crews responded to in recent weeks, as well as was updated on the open, entry-level firefighter position.

On June 9, Fire Chief Jeff Pawul told the commissioners about a vehicle fire that the team was contacted about on May 22 at about 2 p.m. on Captiva Drive. The vehicle was overheating and the driver pulled it off of the road to be safe and onto the sand and vegetation, where it caught fire.

The crew put out the flames and no injuries were reported.

Pawul advised motorists who find themselves in a similar situation to not move the vehicle.

“Do not drive onto a grassy area,” he said, explaining that flames can ignite vegetation beneath the vehicle and cause a brush fire. “The safest thing is to keep it on the road and let us handle it.”

“Call 911 and get out of the vehicle,” Pawul added. “Don’t try to extinguish the fire yourself.”

On June 8 at about 2:30 p.m., fire crews responded to a small brush fire on a residential property on Captiva Drive. Landscaping, mainly palm fronds and yard debris, that had been piled up alongside the road caught on fire. He reported that if it had been dry season, the fire could have been much worse.

“We had a very small fire yesterday on the south end,” Pawul said.

“Luckily, we’ve had a bunch of rain,” he added. “It could have been a bigger fire.”

During the month of May, the district responded to 28 calls, compared to 13 calls in April.

“I can pretty much assure you June is going to be busier,” Pawul said, explaining that the team is noticing an uptick in its summertime water-related calls. “You can tell it’s that time of year.”

Deputy Fire Chief Paul DeArmond provided the commission with an update on the district’s recent hiring process to fill the vacancy left behind when then-Firefighter Joshua Hulslander was promoted to lieutenant. The lieutenant position opened up as a result of DeArmond’s promotion to deputy chief.

Out of approximately 40 applicants, about two dozen moved on to the interview segment.

“We had 10 or 12 each day,” DeArmond said.

A board of three lieutenants and one firefighter interviewed the candidates, then narrowed down the field to three top picks. Next, the finalists were tested on their swimming abilities in a pool. He reported that one could not swim well, but the other two could, and the board chose a top candidate.

“It was a long process,” DeArmond said. “The guys put in some time.”

The district has extended a verbal offer to the top pick.

“The whole board liked him. He was No. 1 by the board,” he said.

“We’ll follow up with a background check and a physical,” DeArmond added. “And hopefully, we’ll have him in by the first of July.”

IN OTHER NEWS

– Pawul reported that he received the June estimated tax roll. It is almost identical to the tax roll estimated in June of last year, but it is a less little when compared to the final number in July 2019.

“The good thing to take away, for us, and the value to the island – we don’t have huge increases, but we also don’t have huge decreases,” he said.

– Pawul reported that the district has completed its annual fire inspections.

– During a special meeting on May 27, the commission signed off on a resolution to approve the refinancing of the fire station’s current loan for a not-to-exceed amount of about $2,755,767.