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NAPLES — If the gulf oil spill actually reaches Naples’ shores, it won’t be the first time some of its first responders have seen the potential devastation.
Naples Fire Chief Steve McInerny is going to Pensacola next week to examine the clean-up efforts in an attempt to prepare the city if the oil comes here.
McInerny and Naples Battalion Chief Pete DiMaria will travel to Pensacola on Tuesday to meet with local responders dealing with clean-up efforts. That includes Pensacola fire officials and representatives from Crowder Gulf, a disaster clean-up company that’s representing municipal governments along the gulf.
“We’re going to get with them and see first-hand what’s working and what’s not,” McInerny said.
McInerny will report his findings to Naples City Manager Bill Moss, who said the city just wants to be prepared for the worst.
City officials have been reading up on the spill, Moss said, but they might be able to find more valuable information by seeing cleaning efforts for themselves.
Oil reached the shores of Northwest Florida in late June. However, state officials say there is no indication yet that oil will come to Southwest Florida.
If oil does come to Naples, though, the primary responsibility will fall on BP for protecting the coast, followed by Coast Guard, state and county officials.
But Moss said the city wants to be prepared anyway.
“We just learned a long time ago that you can’t rely on federal and state governments,” Moss said. “I don’t know too many local governments that will.”
The city is particularly interested in learning how efforts to deflect oil from inlets are working in Pensacola, McInerny said.
The city’s first priority for protection would be its inlets at Doctors and Gordon passes.
The city has already taken other steps to defend against the possibility of oil coming to shore.
The fire department received 2,000 feet of oil containment boom worth $17,000. That would be used to soak up the oil in Naples’ most environmentally sensitive areas.
Even if oil never reaches Naples, the boom could be used for other purposes, such as boating accidents, Moss said.
“This won’t go to waste,” he said. “This will always be on hand.”
As for the expense of sending staff to Pensacola, Moss said, “The cost of going up a day or two is relatively cheap insurance if we can gain inform that can help our city in the coming months.”
Chief McInerny said, “It comes down to preparedness. We want to protect our way of life.”
Connect with Aaron Hale at http://www.naplesnews.com/staff/aaron-hale.