Big Corkscrew Island fire administrators will continue to provide administrative and operational leadership for the financially troubled Immokalee Fire Control and Rescue district.
Big Corkscrew Island Fire Chief Rita Greenberg and other department officials agreed to provide temporary assistance in July to the help their neighboring district through its budgeting process. At Thursday’s fire board meeting, Immokalee Fire Commissioners unanimously voted to continue that assistance indefinitely.
“I’m happy with the relationship we have with the Big Corkscrew Island Fire District,” Immokalee Fire Commissioner Pam Brown said. “We have been through a lot of turmoil. I’d like to take a break from that.”
The arrangement with Big Corkscrew means the Immokalee district won’t hire a new chief for now. Instead, Greenberg and Big Corkscrew’s Assistance Chief Michael Ginson and Capt. Eric Watson will provide administrative and operational supervision for the Immokalee fire district.
The Immokalee fire district has been without a chief since May, when commissioners fired Chief Scott Birge after discovering the department was in a deep budgetary crisis. The fire district also eliminated firefighter positions and the union agreed to pay cuts.
The Immokalee fire district’s contract with Big Corkscrew Island could last at least a year. Commissioners agreed to pay the district $5,000 a month.
The Immokalee fire district must give 30 days notice if it wants to cease the contract, and hire a new chief.
The initial offer from Big Corkscrew Island to help the department wasn’t proposed as a long term solution for the Immokalee fire district, Greenberg said, but “it has potential.”
The Immokalee fire district is also contracting vehicle maintenance services from Big Corkscrew Island and considering help with fire inspection as well.
■ As a way of gaining revenue, the Immokalee fire district agreed to roll out a new inspection plan on Oct. 1.
Under the plan, most of Immokalee’s 735 existing structures will be visited by the fire marshal in the next year and charged a minimum of $75 for the initial inspection, based on square footage, and up to $300 for re-inspections.
■ Fire commissioners agreed to end regularly scheduled fire board meetings at 9:30 p.m.
In the past, the meetings, which start at 7 p.m. have occasionally run late into the night and sometimes into the early morning hours.