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Fire commission OKs resolutions, hears of new hire

By TIFFANY REPECKI / trepecki@breezenewspapers.com - | Feb 23, 2021

The Sanibel Fire and Rescue District’s commission approved two resolutions at its recent meeting, as well as received an update on the new hire testing conducted and the selection of a candidate.

On Feb. 10, the commissioners voted unanimously 3-0 to approve the purchase of four, 6000 psi cylinders from Breathing Air Systems to replace the district’s Cascade System cylinders, trading in the old cylinders and the labor for installation. The contract for Breathing Air Systems totals $6,865.

Prior to the vote, Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Barbot explained that due to the capacity of the tanks, the district’s current cylinders are only 85 percent to 90 percent fillable. Replacing them with the new cylinders will enable the district to fully fill the tanks, providing crews with more time fighting fires.

“It’s a much needed increase,” he said.

Also at the meeting, the commission voted 3-0 to approve a $2,625 contract with Earth Graphics Landscaping for it to trim 31 overgrown trees located around Station 172 on Sanibel-Captiva Road.

Before the vote, the commissioners asked how many quotes were obtained for the work.

Fire Chief William “Bill” Briscoe reported that it was the only quote they were able to secure, despite reaching out to a handful of companies. He explained that it is always hard for the district to find companies willing to come out to the island. Briscoe added that Earth Graphics also does Station 171.

“All of it over there is completely overgrown,” he said of the work that needs to be done.

Also during the meeting, Barbot provided an update on the new hire testing. He explained that the district for the first time opened up the hiring process to only paramedics, who have more extensive training than EMTs. Because of the change, the district had about 20 applications versus over 100.

Barbot continued that the district invited 15 for in-person interviews and about a dozen showed up. For the interview, the applicants also took part in exercises with off-duty staff who volunteered their time.

“Good job, guys,” Commissioner Richard McCurry said of the volunteers.

Barbot reported that an 11-year veteran with Lee County EMS was the top pick and he has since been extended a job offer with the district, which he accepted. The new hire is expected to start in March.

Barbot added that the promotional process to fill one captain and one lieutenant position is ongoing.

Division Chief of Training Tim Barrett told the commissioners that the crews were continuing to train with the district’s new medical director, which included a lecture on pediatric airway emergencies.

For fire training, staff were working on their quick or rapid attack methods. They also took part in training regarding dangerous gasses, such as propane and natural gas, and the handling of them.

Under special operations, the Rapid Intervention Team or RIP – the firefighters who are on scene and ready to respond if one of their crew members gets into trouble – have also been doing training.

Division Chief of Prevention Larry Williams provided updates on some of the island’s ongoing construction projects. He also reported that the last half of the fire hydrants are being painted.

“They should be almost complete,” Williams said.

He continued that he recently conducted a fire alarm refresher course with the crew members, and Williams explained for the commissioners how the district’s fire alarm monitoring is going wireless.

IN OTHER NEWS

– The district responded to 134 calls in January, compared to 154 for the same month last year.

“Definitely seeing an increase over the last four or five days with the traffic increase,” Barbot said.