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Sanibel responds to two fire calls, undergoes restructuring

May 14, 2019
By TIFFANY REPECKI ( , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

The Sanibel Fire and Rescue District's commission heard about two recent fire calls, an organizational restructuring of the department and a proposed idea to donate an old fire truck at its recent meeting.

On May 8, Fire Chief Matt Scott reported to the commissioners that the district responded to 140 incidents in April, as compared to 117 calls for service during the same month in 2018.

"We're still on track for an increase," he said of the year-over-year numbers.

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The Sanibel Fire and Rescue District recently responded to a propane gas tank explosion at a home on Sand Castle Road in the Dunes neighborhood. No one was injured during the incident.

Scott also shared that the district responded to two fires.

The first involved a transport vehicle, which has been reported as a $13,000 loss. The second incident involved a propane gas tank explosion at a home on Sand Castle Road in the Dunes neighborhood.

"It was a pretty unique situation," he said of the residential call.

According to staff, the homeowners purchased the house last year and it was their first time at the residence. They lit the barbecue grill on the lanai and then went back inside to grab the food.

"The entire lanai pretty much exploded," one team member at the meeting said, explaining that the grill blew out of its housing and took out the drywall with it. "It blew the entire wall out into the yard."

He noted that there were six or seven people in the home and two children in the pool.

"No one was hurt," the team member said. "But it did quite a bit of damage."

"There were no scorch marks or anything, it just went," he added.

Also at the meeting, Scott outlined for the commission a reorganization of the staff positions.

"I went ahead and put together a new structure," he said.

More in line with other fire departments, the new system changes the assistant chief title to deputy chief, sets up an administrative assistant, and identifies the department heads as division chiefs.

"It follows a chain of command," Scott said. "You have one person to report to."

Asked by the commission, he added that there is no pay structure changes.

Also during the meeting, Scott explained that he did not anticipate getting any payout on the existing reserve apparatus and the acquisition of the new truck was pushed back four weeks to November.

"We're not going to get any money for that truck," he said.

"I would like to donate it to someone who could use it," Scott added.

He suggested a fire department in the Panhandle hit by last season's hurricane or the Fort Myers fire academy. Scott also noted that Gendron Funeral was interested in it and might offer some money.

Commissioner Richard McCurry agreed with donating it and asked about Upper Captiva.

"I could look at that and see if they're interested," Scott said.

Commissioners Bruce Cochrane and Jerry Muench also agreed with donating it.

"I'd rather go that route," Muench said.

Training Officer Capt. Tim Barrett provided the commissioners with an update on recent ongoing training. The crews have been working with the brush truck, as well as focusing on infectious diseases and biological waste. For special operations training, the crews are focused on vehicle extrication.

He noted that it has highlighted electric or fuel-efficient vehicles as the methods differ.

"They have to figure out where the batteries are on it," Barrett said. "What to cut, what not to cut."

Scott reported for the commission that the firefighter cancer bill has been signed into law, with an effective date of July. However, there are several questions surrounding it that need clarification, such as who is eligible for it, which cancers it applies to and whether it is open to volunteer firefighters.

As it reads, if a firefighter is diagnosed with a related cancer they receive a $25,000 check.

"Also, they are not responsible for any (medical) deductibles," Scott said.

He explained that he brought it up because the law applies to current and retired employees.

"It is 10 years from the time they retire," Scott said.


- Scott reported that the replacement radio tower has been installed at Station 172.



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