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Fire commissioners approve purchase of new radios

By TIFFANY REPECKI / trepecki@breezenewspapers.com - | Dec 15, 2020

TIFFANY REPECKI The Captiva Island Fire Control District's commissioners approved the purchase of new mobile and portable radios for the district so it is in compliance with Lee County's radio network upgrade.

At its recent meeting, the Captiva Island Fire Control District’s commission approved the purchase of new radios to match a county upgrade, as well as picked a candidate for an open seat on the board.

On Dec. 8, Commissioners Sherrill Sims and Jeffrey Brown voted 2-0 on a resolution to allow for a capital expenditure to replace the district’s current mobile and portable 800 mghz radios. The purchase is necessary in order to be compliant with the P25 digital upgrade that Lee County is performing to its radio network. The cost of the radios is not to exceed $54,000 per the quote received from Motorola.

Also at the meeting, the commission discussed filling the vacancy left by former Commissioner C.W. Kilgore. Four candidates expressed interested in the seat, which Kilgore resigned from in October.

Fire Chief Jeff Pawul reported that they are Colin Black, Mike Lanigan, Mark Reiss and Mark Wells.

Brown explained that he had the opportunity to conduct telephone meetings with all four and that some attributes he considered were accessibility and perspective. He added that all four are very qualified.

Sims reported that she had the chance to speak with three but could not reach the fourth.

“I reached most of them, but I did not reach all of them,” she said.

After some further discussion, Brown proposed offering the appointment to Black. He noted that Black is a full-time resident — one criteria the commission sought — and has been on Captiva a long time.

“He has a great business background. He kind of checked off all the boxes,” Brown said.

Sims voiced agreement with the nomination.

Pawul explained that he will reach out to Black to confirm he is still interested in the seat. If so, Black will next undergo a background check and, pending no issues, he will appointed at the next meeting.

Both Brown and Sims thanked all four candidates for their interest.

Also during the meeting, Pawul reported that Lee County has about $3.5 million in CARES Act funding that is has opened up to the individual fire districts, with its allocation based on population.

“Out of the $3.5 million, we’ve been given access to about $4,000,” he said.

Pawul explained that the funds are to be used to cover unexpected COVID-related costs.

“We haven’t had a huge hardship in just COVID — that’s our industry, that’s what we do. We take care of sick people,” he said, adding that he is inclined to thank the county but not apply for the funding.

The commissioners agreed with passing on the funds.

“I can’t justify in my mind why we would need the money,” Brown said, noting that there are other districts in the county that have been more heavily impacted by COVID and need the funding.


– Pawul noted that he recently received the signed copies of the district’s Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the Lee County Board of County Commissioners. He can now submit to the state the district’s application for its advanced life support non-transport services license.

– Deputy Fire Chief Paul DeArmond explained that staff is making use of the early dusk.

“Because it gets dark early, we’ve been doing some night training,” he said, citing boat exercises and training at employee housing. “The same drills we do during the day, but it gives the night aspect.”

– The district responded to 26 incidents in November.

“November, obviously, wasn’t as busy as October,” Pawul said.

He added that the year-to-date numbers are about two higher for 2019.

– Pawul reported that the district only conducted about 10 annual inspections last month.

He explained that it is in the process of switching to the new software the commissioners recently approved, so staff cannot input a ton of new data until that it is complete — tentatively set for Feb. 1.