Board approves contract for new fire chief
Ron Martin approved unanimously, takes over from Matthew Love Sept. 23
Ron Martin officially became the new Fort Myers Beach fire chief Thursday after the Fort Myers Beach Board of Fire Commissioners approved a contract with Martin, who has been serving as the department’s executive assistant fire chief of support services.
The contract approved by the board calls for a salary of $153,500 for Martin, who has been with the department since 2003. A native of Indiana, Martin started as a firefighter/paramedic with the department. Martin previously served with Lee County Emergency Services as a paramedic and has 11 years of experience in firefighting and paramedic positions in departments in Indiana and Illinois.
Martin will oversee a department of 67 employees, the largest union of which has been in negotiations with the district’s commissioners and leadership on a new contract since last year.
“I’m really excited about this new opportunity,” Martin said. “I am looking forward to taking the district in a positive path. I am looking forward to the exciting challenges and opportunities that lay ahead.”
Fort Myers Beach Board of Fire Commissioners Chair Larry Wood said the commissioners are “looking forward to (Martin) being here a long time.” Wood said he is looking forward to Martin and the department being able to move on “out of the covid situation.”
Wood said “we have every faith in Ron as a leader and a fire chief.”
Wood thanked Love for his service, saying “he’s been a great leader. He’s moving closer to his family up north and we wish him the best.”
The commissioners will hold a formal swearing-in ceremony for Martin Oct. 27 and hope to invite the public for an in-house and meet-and-greet with Martin sometime in November at one of the fire stations.
At the same meeting, the board approved a $22.7 million budget which will keep the millage rate flat at $2.9851 per thousand dollars of assessed property value. Jane Thompson, Director of Finance and Administrative Services, said the Truth in Millage (TRIM) rate was able to stay the same as last year due to rising property values. The main driver of the budget is the purchase of two new ambulances as well as fees for the architect and engineer who will be designing the construction of a new fire station.
Meanwhile, negotiations are ongoing with the local architectural firm GMA Architects which has been selected to design the new fire station, slated to be built on Estero Boulevard at the former Topps supermarket site. According to department leadership, negotiations are scheduled for Tuesday with the Fort Myers-based architectural firm. The board would have to approve any contract with the architect. Negotiations are also ongoing with the engineer and construction manager that have been selected to oversee the construction work.
In other business, the district is looking to fill several vacant positions in its department. Outgoing Chief Matthew Love said up to 10 positions could be filled, including full-time and part-time jobs. Several firefighters have taken jobs with other departments.
Love has accepted a job as chief of the fire department in St. Cloud Minnesota and has agreed to stay on 90 days as a senior advisor to the fire department.