Guest commentary: Time for Naples and North Naples to work together to save money

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By Marvin Easton

Naples

Chairman, Naples/North Naples Fire Department Cooperation Committee

In September, Naples City Council established the committee nicknamed NFD/NNFD Coop Comm. City Council named Mayor John Sorey and me; the North Naples Fire Commission named Commissioner John McGowan and Michael Reagen.

Our mission was to investigate and make recommendations on where cooperation between the two organizations can save money and/or increase efficiencies.

With the advice of Naples Fire Chief Steve McInerny and North Naples Fire Chief Orly Stolts, recommendations included:

* NFD would be first responder into areas in the southern part of the NNFD that are closer to NFD Station 2 than they are to the closest NNFD station. This area includes Creech Road north to Holly Gate Lane, from Goodlette-Frank Road to U.S. 41 and Wilderness County Club. The objective is to reduce the total response time to the estimated 250 calls per year.

* North Naples Fire would be first responder into areas in the northeastern part of the city that are closer to NNFD Station 40 on Pine Ridge Road or NNFD Station 47 on Airport-Pulling Road. This area includes Seagate Drive, Moorings Park, Estuary at Grey Oaks, Bears Paw, Hole in the Wall and Royal Poinciana golf courses, Collier Park of Commerce, Naples Municipal Airport and North Road. The objective is to reduce the total response time to the estimated 450 calls per year.

* The NFD and NNFD would conduct joint firefighting, medical and special operations training on a monthly basis and share training facilities.

* Joint pre-fire planning of commercial and/or multiple family occupancies would be conducted.

* A joint yearly training calendar would be formalized.

* NNFD would like to request periodic assistance from the City’s Information Technology Department, if it is available.

* NNFD currently outsources preventive maintenance on 40 staff vehicles. If staff is available at the City Maintenance Center to provide these services, at a cost less than NNFD is currently paying, and/or as a method to “compensate” NNFD for providing the additional 200 first responder calls into the city, this should be investigated.

* NNFD currently outsources fire hydrant repair. If staff is available at the City Utility Department to do this at a cost less than NNFD is currently paying, and/or as a method to “compensate” NNFD for providing the additional 200 first responder calls into the city, this should be investigated.

* A formal interlocal agreement be developed for NNFD to provide water-based rescue standby support to the city and sheriff, if needed, for the Fourth of July and New Year’s freworks and Great Dock Canoe Race.

There are two types of cooperation. Those that improve efficiency and/or save money and those that save lives. It is undeniable that in many emergency medical situations, such as cardiac arrest, the faster EMS personnel, or firefighter/paramedics, arrive on scene, the more favorable the outcome will be.

The NFD/NNFD Cooperation Committee urges the City Council and the NNFD Commission to establish a joint implementation team, to develop the detailed plans and time frame, and to execute those plans.

If the readers of this commentary feel there is merit to any of these recommendations, you may want to express your thoughts to your elected commissioners or council members.

You cannot create the future by clinging to the past.

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