Straw poll to be held on Capri fire consolidation

Against the backdrop of looming consolidation with the East Naples department, the Isles of Capri Fire-Rescue Advisory Committee met Thursday afternoon at the fire station, with member Dan Sansevieri joining by phone link. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

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Against the backdrop of looming consolidation with the East Naples department, the Isles of Capri Fire-Rescue Advisory Committee met Thursday afternoon at the fire station, with member Dan Sansevieri joining by phone link. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

John Rogers tells the Isles of Capri Fire-Rescue Advisory Committee there is no certainty Fiddler's Creek residents are jumping ship from the district. Against the backdrop of looming consolidation with the East Naples department, the Isles of Capri Fire-Rescue Advisory Committee met Thursday afternoon at the fire station. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER // Buy this photo

John Rogers tells the Isles of Capri Fire-Rescue Advisory Committee there is no certainty Fiddler's Creek residents are jumping ship from the district. Against the backdrop of looming consolidation with the East Naples department, the Isles of Capri Fire-Rescue Advisory Committee met Thursday afternoon at the fire station. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Len Golden Price, Administrator of the County's Administrative Services Division, speaks directly to firefighters sitting in on the meeting. Against the backdrop of looming consolidation with the East Naples department, the Isles of Capri Fire-Rescue Advisory Committee met Thursday afternoon at the fire station. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER // Buy this photo

Len Golden Price, Administrator of the County's Administrative Services Division, speaks directly to firefighters sitting in on the meeting. Against the backdrop of looming consolidation with the East Naples department, the Isles of Capri Fire-Rescue Advisory Committee met Thursday afternoon at the fire station. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Firefighter Christopher Tomei waits to be heard. Against the backdrop of looming consolidation with the East Naples department, the Isles of Capri Fire-Rescue Advisory Committee met Thursday afternoon at the fire station. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER // Buy this photo

Firefighter Christopher Tomei waits to be heard. Against the backdrop of looming consolidation with the East Naples department, the Isles of Capri Fire-Rescue Advisory Committee met Thursday afternoon at the fire station. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

— The meeting of the Isles of Capri Fire-Rescue Department Advisory Committee on Friday afternoon had a little of everything, with enough drama and raw emotion for an episode of “Days of Our Lives.”

Set in the common room at the firehouse on Capri Boulevard, this meeting was held in the wake of two other meetings, a community forum Sept. 6 at the Capri Civic Association, and the Collier County Commission meeting two days before the advisory committee meeting, plus the ongoing directive from the Commission to fold the Capri department into the East Naples Fire-Rescue District.

At the County Commission meeting, commissioners handed down new instructions to county staff concerning the Capri fire district, requesting a straw vote of affected residents.

“Once again, we went to the BCC, and once again we were given another new direction,” said Len Golden Price, administrator of the County’s Administrative Services Division, at the advisory committee meeting. “Luckily, we’re flexible.” The mail-in ballot will go to either registered voters, or more likely, property owners in the area served by the Capri fire unit.

Price struck a light note when she informed those present, including Isles of Capri firefighters sitting in on the meeting, that they could have the chance to “dunk me into a vat of ice-cold water at a dollar a pop. I have been the face of this, and I know people want to strangle me. I’m asking you begging you to take out those pent-up aggressions,” she said. The event is. She is scheduled for her stint poised over the dunk tank at 1:50 p.m., Sept. 20 at the County Government Center in East Naples. She mentioned County Commissioner Georgia Hiller will also be among the dunkees. Proceeds from the event will benefit the United Way.

Advisory committee member Ben Hilbun worried that residents would conflate the fire department consolidation with ambulance service, which is a separate issue.

“You see these signs that say ‘Save your life save the fire department.’ The public thinks they’re going to lose their ambulance. The ambulance is all I hear about,” he said. “People will vote (for the fire district to remain independent) to save the ambulance.”

“Any change with the ambulance is going to happen regardless of fire consolidation or of the vote,” said Price.

Isles of Capri Fire-Rescue Advisory Committee member Matt Crowder speaks. Against the backdrop of looming consolidation with the East Naples department, the committee met Thursday afternoon at the fire station. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER // Buy this photo

Isles of Capri Fire-Rescue Advisory Committee member Matt Crowder speaks. Against the backdrop of looming consolidation with the East Naples department, the committee met Thursday afternoon at the fire station. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Len Golden Price, Administrator of the County's Administrative Services Division, speaks directly to firefighters sitting in on the meeting. Against the backdrop of looming consolidation with the East Naples department, the Isles of Capri Fire-Rescue Advisory Committee met Thursday afternoon at the fire station. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER // Buy this photo

Len Golden Price, Administrator of the County's Administrative Services Division, speaks directly to firefighters sitting in on the meeting. Against the backdrop of looming consolidation with the East Naples department, the Isles of Capri Fire-Rescue Advisory Committee met Thursday afternoon at the fire station. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Advisory committee Matt Crowder proposed the group hold a series of public meetings, “town hall style,” to get out the word, between now and when the election ballots will be due in November. Members, including Dan Sansevieri, listening in by phone, voted for two additional meetings, at 6 p.m., Sept. 26 and Oct. 24, in addition to their regularly scheduled Oct. 10 meeting. They also agreed to a meeting of the advisory committee to go over the proposed ballot language, once it is prepared, to give their input.

“This consolidation will never pass. It’s an emotional issue,” said Hilbun. The difficulty, for positioning ambulances as well as fire trucks, is the amount of area to be covered, said Dan Summers, Director of the Bureau of Emergency Services for Collier County, who was also present.

“What makes this so hard is for Collier County is its size,” he said, with the time to reach and transport patients, and then return units to service. At the same time, said Price, geography might serve to save the Isles of Capri ambulance, due to its location between Marco Island and East Naples.

There has been much talk of residents of Fiddler’s Creek and Hammock Bay opting to pull out of the Isles of Capri fire district, and throw their lot in with East Naples. During public comment, John Rogers emphatically made the point that is not certain by any means.

Facing the elimination of their jobs, the firefighters on hand became emotional, pleading for certainty.

“The firefighters support consolidation we just want to be part of it,” said Isles of Capri firefighter Christopher Tomei, saying they had been lied to and kept in the dark. After a while, Summers had heard enough.

“It is what it is. We’re going to be professional and do the job perfectly,” he said. “We don’t need to hear that discussion anymore. If you continue to beat down on that, you make it worse.” The fate of the nine Capri professional firefighters on staff has been an ongoing issue in the consolidation process, with East Naples fire officials refusing to guarantee they will have jobs in the merged department.

Price became emotional in turn, telling those in attendance that she had just taken a phone call when she left the meeting, getting the news from her sister that another sister had been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer.

“I try to have every bit of empathy, but I can’t quite fathom sitting in your chair,” she told the firefighters. Tomei and Crowder also raised the question of the financial stability of the East Naples department.

“It’s perfectly reasonable to get their budget,” said Crowder. East Naples fire commissioners, who are in the middle of a consolidation process with the Golden Gate fire department, must also agree to the annexation of the Isles of Capri department.

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Comments » 3

MrBreeze writes:

The real answer would have been for Marco Island and the Isles of Capri to both be covered by the county with Fire and EMS but that makes to much sense. The location would be good for both and the county and the firefighters could keep jobs.

Marco Island wants to stand alone with ladder trucks and fire boats all on the back of the taxpayer. A missed deal at best could have been had by both communities. Same with the law Enforcement revert to Collier County Sheriff for the Isles and Marco Island and get rid of MIPD.

ajm3s writes:

in response to MrBreeze:

The real answer would have been for Marco Island and the Isles of Capri to both be covered by the county with Fire and EMS but that makes to much sense. The location would be good for both and the county and the firefighters could keep jobs.

Marco Island wants to stand alone with ladder trucks and fire boats all on the back of the taxpayer. A missed deal at best could have been had by both communities. Same with the law Enforcement revert to Collier County Sheriff for the Isles and Marco Island and get rid of MIPD.

Bingo! And the most recent public discussion led by Mr. Petricca was a clear showing of who on Council truly understands the total picture.

Mr. Petricca, Mr. Honecker, Mr. Batte and Mr. Brown should be applauded for seeking support from the Collier County commensurate with the funding we provide the county in Monday's council meeting.

The Fire Dept under Mr. Murphy is an exercise in highlighting the pros of spending Marco Island tax money but his lack of credibility in seeking additional services from the County EMS. What I found most interesting was Mr. Murphy's non-specific response to Mr. Kiester's question as to working with Collier County in the past to seek additional support.

For an historical point of reference, Mr. Murphy stated that the County would provide an additional EMS vehicle and staffing if the city would re-open Station 51 on Elkam, November of 2010.

"Fire Chief Mike Murphy reported that Collier County EMS has agreed to provide three firefighter/EMTs, one per shift, to augment Marco Island’s safety personnel. Along with a fire truck and emergency transport vehicle, said Murphy, this represented a $300,000 to 400,000 savings from the city’s budget, while providing improved service."

Reference: http://www.marconews.com/news/2010/no...

Or go to timestamp 2:55 to here the pitch yourself of the council meeting:

http://view.liveindexer.com/ViewIndex...

Did I miss something because I believe this never happened? I do not believe we have a second EMS vehicle stationed at Station 51.

Bear in mind, Mr. Murphy does NOT want more EMS vehicles from the County, he would rather have his own ambulance service and medical director.

That is my take, I hope other council members can recall his sales pitches of November, 2010.

Public comment is appreciated, because I am confused as to who is really working on behalf of the citizen of Marco Island in getting commensurate services for the amount of monies we provide the county.

From my perspective, Mr. Murphy is not working for you, yet he was passionate in convincing Mr. Sacher, Mr. Honig and Mr. Kiester he is. I guess his requests for more EMS vehicles and staffing from the county was not as passionate and effective as to council.

ajm3s writes:

Here is another tidbit in a recent article in the Sun Times:

"The fire-rescue department had not seen any increase in personnel since 2006 while calls for service have increased more than 30 percent, with a trend toward overlapping calls on both the EMS and the fire side of Murphy’s responsibility."

http://www.marcoislandflorida.com/art...

Also consider the fact that Isles of Capri NO LONGER provides AUTOMATIC mutual aid to Marco Island for fire services, ONLY county EMS services, in Feb, 2011.

"In other business, Marco Island Fire Chief Mike Murphy told council members that Isle of Capri Fire Department will no longer provide automatic aid to the city when fire alarms are dispatched. The change took effect Feb. 15.

The Isle of Capri department, which has three-to-four firefighters, will still respond if needed in the event of a structure fire or rescue, and will offer ‘key station coverage’, which means firefighters from Capri will bring a truck to a staging area on Marco Island should the city’s crews be tied up on other calls.

According to Murphy, the neighboring department responded to 333 commercial fire alarms on the Island in 2010 (in conjunction with Marco Island Fire Department) and more than 600 rescue calls. Often, fire alarms turn out to be false alarms."

http://www.marconews.com/news/2011/ma...

Or am I misinformed again or is this just another false alarm.

Folks pay attention because Mr. Sacher, Mr. Honig and Mr. Kiester are NOT!!!!!!!!!!

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