homepage logo

Captiva fire commissioners OK change to county agreement

By TIFFANY REPECKI / trepecki@breezenewspapers.com - | Aug 25, 2020

PHOTO PROVIDED Fire Chief Jeff Pawul

During its recent monthly meeting, the Captiva Island Fire Control District’s commission approved a resolution to amend the district’s agreement with Lee County for non-transport services provided.

On Aug. 11, the commissioners voted unanimously 3-0 to amend the existing memorandum of understanding currently in place for advanced life support, non-transport services supplied by the county. Fire Chief Jeff Pawul provided background on the resolution before the vote took place.

He reported that he met with Lee County public safety officials to discuss the district’s interest in switching medical directors for the services and no longer piggyback off of Lee County EMS.

“I think they’re a little more understanding of why we want to do it,” Pawul said.

He started researching medical directors for the change in an effort to provide the district with its own ALS license and to open the door to staff training and education more tailored to the district’s needs.

During its July meeting, the commission voted to approve a new contract with Dr. Benjamin Abo for him to provide ALS-non transport medical direction to the district for one year, starting on Oct. 1.

For the district to make the switch, the Lee County Board of County Commissioners must give its approval and the state must approve the ALS license. Neither had happened as of the meeting.

“Our application is in,” Pawul said. “That process does take maybe 60 to 90 days.”

“In the meantime, what we need to do is amend our agreement with Lee County,” he added.

Pawul explained that the current agreement does not include language on transitioning out of it. The amendment would enable the district to continue the services with the county until it obtains its license.

A motion made to approve the amendment passed.

Also at the meeting, he provided an update on recent calls for service.

“A lot of water-related calls,” Pawul said. “It’s been a busy month on the water.”

At about 9 p.m. July 31, the Captiva crew responded to a 30-foot pleasure boat on fire near Useppa Island in the Pine Island Sound. Several fire and law enforcement agencies responded to the site.

“They were gone on the call for about an hour and a half to two hours,” he said.

Pawul noted that the Captiva boat was the first on scene with spray foam capabilities.

“Our guys were the first one there able to apply foam and be effective,” he said, explaining that the Matlacha/Pine Island Fire Control District’s boat also has the capability and arrived soon after.

The Captiva crew went through 15-20 gallons of foam, which is mixed with saltwater.

“The foam does a good job of putting a blanket on it and smothering the fire, which hopefully leads to extinguishment before the boat sinks,” Pawul said. “You’re trying to protect the environment a bit.”

The two occupants on the pleasure boat sustained minor injuries and were treated on scene.

“Unfortunately, most boat fires once they really get going end up being a total loss. This boat was a total loss,” he said. “The boat did end up partially submerged.”

In addition, at about 1 a.m. Aug. 1, the district responded to a call about two people being thrown from a boat in the northern Pine Island Sound. The Captiva crew responded and assisted nearby agencies.

“It was a boat that hit a sandbar and the occupants were ejected,” Pawul said.

“There were no serious injuries,” he added. “They were in shallow enough water.”

However, the boat’s kill switch was off, so the boat was driving operator-less in circles in the dark.

“Every boat should have a kill switch on it that you connect to yourself,” Pawul said, noting that it is a safety measure in medical emergencies or ejections. “It’ll just pull that cord out and kill the engines.”

“Always make sure you use it,” he added. “A lot of people do not.”


– Deputy Fire Chief Paul DeArmond reported that the district opened the application process for two vacancies, a firefighter-EMT and a firefighter-paramedic. About 20 applications had been received.

“Hopefully, we’ll be all filled up with staff by Oct. 1,” he said.

– The district responded to 43 incident calls in July.