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Questions for the fire commission

Letter to the Editor

November 2, 2016
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Questions for the fire commission

To the Editor:

A fire department's primary mission is provide life safety services to the citizens they serve with highly trained and equipped firefighters. Efficiency of operations is essential, as our tax dollars must be judiciously spent. I believe there are ongoing factors negatively affecting our safety and efficiency of our fire department.

Since 2014 FMB Fire has hired 21 firefighters. 14 have voluntarily resigned. Why?

This 66 percent rate is the highest in North America for professional fire departments. We are very short-staffed triggering enormous overtime costs. Year to date, firefighters have been ordered over 240 times to work 24-hour overtimes resulting in numerous 48-hour tours. Unsafe, exhausting, inefficient. Why?

We are on our third chief since 2013. Two lawsuits. Why?

The towns' tax rate is 0.8 percent; our excessive fire tax is 2.58 percent. Why?

We rely upon the Coast Guard for all water related incidents. Their four vessels are designed for offshore, NOT out of channel, shallow back bays, or underwater streets. Our Coast Guard doesn't have shallow-draft boats. Their Mission Statement is to protect thousands of square miles of ocean, from the Keys to Sarasota. When deployed, they leave no one behind. I believe a rigid hull, inflatable rescue boat that is capable of going into back bays and on flooded streets just makes sense.

A beach vehicle was recently purchased. It came in over budget at nearly $40,000. Why? A recommended trailer, not purchased, would have cost $2,000. $870 has been spent in 6 months towing it off island. Why?

The fire board must be held accountable and address these concerns. The exhausted firefighters continue to serve selflessly. Help them. Attend a fire board meeting. Ask these questions.

Ron Fleming

Fort Myers Beach



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