Thread: Florida News

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    Default Florida News

    Well..it seems as if not many folks read this column. So in an effort to promote more reading I will post odds and ends information....you know..."nice to know stuff" on this thread. I had approached FH.com about being a contributing editor when they started the MEMBERZONE and they told me they were already full with people and they would put me on the list. So...this column will be my contribution to the Florida Fire Service Community and FH.com. I will put stuff on here that is nice to know but not as important as the stuff on the other forums such as "Fire Wire", "Off Duty Discussions", "Firefighters Forum",etc. Feel free to let me know what you think.
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    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
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    BMI Investigator
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    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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    Post City of Seminole Paramedic is Pinellas County Paramedic of The Year

    St. Petersburg Times

    Seminole man is top paramedic
    By JULIANNE WU, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times, published April 13, 2003


    SEMINOLE -- Seminole Fire Rescue firefighter/paramedic David Hudak has been selected Paramedic of the Year for Pinellas County. He will be recognized by county commissioners on June 10 and will be eligible for consideration in state competition.

    Fire Chief Dan Graves announced Hudak's award last week at a City Council meeting.

    Hudak, 35, has been a Seminole firefighter for 15 years and a paramedic for the past 10 years. Besides his work in Seminole, Hudak is on the Pinellas County Hazardous Materials team and chairman of the county's Advanced Life Support EMS equipment committee.

    In 1997, Hudak and several other firefighters formed a non-profit organization, Clowning by PUFFS, which stands for Pinellas United Firefighters for Safety. The group, which is on a temporary hiatus, entertains schoolchildren while teaching fire prevention tips and basic safety. Hudak conducts numerous fire/EMS safety programs in area schools on his own.

    Of the award, Hudak said, "I'm extremely pleased with it. I think I'm still in the shock stage."

    Graves was elated, too. "Man, that is awesome news about David. He's been with us many years and I can't think of anyone who deserves it more. He's done so much for us and the county, serving on several EMS committees."

    Hudak and his wife, Melissa, have three sons and live in Seminole.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
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    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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    Post Marco Island Firefighter is State Paramedic of The Year

    Naples Daily News

    Marco paramedic awarded Florida EMS Paramedic of the Year

    Sunday, April 13, 2003
    By BILLY BRUCE, bjbruce@naplesnews.com



    A Marco Island Fire and Rescue employee says his recent selection as the Florida EMS Paramedic of The Year for 2002 is a reflection of the Marco department's teamwork more than it is his own personal achievements.

    "The award is about all the guys in the Marco department, not just me," said paramedic Don Jones, 45, who reaches his 20th anniversary with the Marco department in October. "The award was given to me, but it's really an award for our entire department. I don't take this as a personal award."

    Jones collected the award from the Florida Fire Chiefs Association in February at that organization's annual convention in Jacksonville.

    He then took a trip to Tallahassee April 8 to receive a resolution from Gov. Jeb Bush and the Cabinet recognizing him and other fire and rescue service personnel for "going above and beyond the call of duty," Florida Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher said in a statement. Gallagher also serves as state fire marshal.

    Jones and 16 other fire and rescue personnel from departments around the state, also honored by Bush and the Cabinet, met with the state leaders at the capitol to receive the resolution.

    As Jones worked a department exhibit booth Friday at a seniors' services expo at the Marco Island Marriott Resort, he spoke humbly about the honor and gave credit for the award to Marco Fire Chief Mike Murphy.

    "I didn't even know Chief Murphy had nominated me for this," Jones said. "It's Chief Murphy who inspires us to do more for the public by providing more services and programs, and it's those programs that helped me earn this recognition. Chief Murphy inspires us to heighten and improve our level of public service on a day-to-day basis. The chief has been a great inspiration."

    Jones started as an emergency medical technician (EMT) at Marco in October 1983 and, in 1989, completed state certification for paramedic duty. EMTs provide basic life support and paramedics provide advanced life support. The Marco department has 10 certified paramedics and six more will complete certification by July, Jones said.

    All paramedics in Collier County report to Dr. Robert Tober, director of Emergency Medical Services at Naples Community Hospital.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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    Default Manatee Woman Burned in Barbecuing Accident

    Posted on Sun, Apr. 13, 2003

    Woman burns self while barbecuing

    A Bradenton woman was flown to a St. Petersburg hospital after she burned herself while using her barbecue Saturday afternoon, according to authorities.

    Manatee County paramedics and Southern Manatee firefighters went to 3304 14th St. E. just before 4 p.m. to treat the woman who received second-degree burns to about 22 percent of her body, according to Southern Manatee Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Pete Donchenko. The woman, whose name was not available, had poured lighter fluid on the barbecue and the flames shot back at her, burning her legs and arms, Manatee County EMS Capt. Greg Thomas said.

    She was taken by helicopter to Bayfront Medical Center, Thomas said.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
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    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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    Post Martin County--IAFF Local and Officials Agree on Pay Package

    Stuart News

    In Your Corner: Firefighters, Martin on right track
    By Martin County Taxpayers Association
    April 12, 2003

    Martin County Taxpayers Association
    Davis Rohl, president


    Last Thursday representatives of the Martin County Taxpayers Association again attended the negotiations between Martin County and the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF), where the county responded to the union proposal we wrote about in our last article headlined, "Martin firefighters aren't underpaid."

    The IAFF was seeking an increase in base pay of 13 percent per year for each of the next three years (a compounded 42.3 percent increase) plus numerous other costly pay add-ons and additional fringe benefits. The average firefighter/medic now earns well in excess of $70,000 per year, which is more than competitive with surrounding counties and municipalities. But surveys indicate that Martin County pay levels may not quite be sufficient to attract entry level firefighter-medics.

    We are happy to report that the county staff and the commissioners did their homework very well and correctly concluded that, given the condition of the economy and the facts about minimal firefighter-medic attrition, the IAFF proposal was not relevant or warranted. Instead, the county proposed a more reasonable and responsible package of wage increases that is weighted toward newer firefighters while rejecting all of the other capricious proposals put forth by the IAFF.

    Another expensive issue regarding the firefighters/paramedics is the excessive amount of expensive overtime worked by the department. We are happy to report that at last Thursday's meeting both the county staff and the IAFF pledged to find ways to reduce the overtime. If both parties truly mean what they say, then it would be easy for them to change some minor language in the contract that would remove the ambiguity regarding the use of volunteers to temporarily fill in where necessary. Not only would that save the taxpayers money but would also serve to provide further "on-the-job" training for potential new recruits. It's a win-win situation.

    The Martin County Taxpayers Association lauds the commissioners and the staff for making these tough decisions to safeguard the taxpayers' money and help hold the line on additional costs that would most likely have led to a need for new taxes. While we have no bias toward the firefighter/medics and the fine job they are doing, we urge the commissioners to stand by the facts and yield no ground as the negotiations continue to conclusion. The firefighter-medics were treated quite generously in the last negotiations, but now it is time to get realistic.



    This year two members of county management are "barnstorming" local governments and organizations to secure tax-money support for their organization, Community Coach. They are addressing these groups using the premise that they are messengers of the County Commission, whose instructions are to retain their present level of service while finding ways to finance their organization. This organization faces a budget shortfall of about $500,000. In actuality, the County Commission is opposed to raising any taxes to pay for the Community Coach.

    More than one year ago, MCTA wrote a column on the operations of Community Coach asking the question of whether or not this function could be performed more efficiently. Since then, the budget has increased approximately 30 percent, as has the number of buses. Responses to our article focused on taking away this service, which was never our aim. We only wanted assurance that everything was being done to run it in the most efficient manner. We have received no such assurance.

    Community Coach seems to be "growing the need" rather than responding to a real need. Its buses still run empty or near empty a good portion of the time. A relatively large staff runs the operations, and they continue to use $70,000 vehicles to do the work. Other communities are beating us cost-wise, through the use of measures such as volunteer drivers, vouchers (to pay taxi fares), utilization of smaller sedans or vans for specific purposes.

    The MCTA suggests that Community Coach management invest more time in improving their operation and less on perpetuating its growth.


    These articles, which are prepared by Taxpayers Association members working together, appear on this page on alternate Saturdays. Your comments, ideas or questions are welcome. Call or fax 288-0474 or write to P.O. Box 741, Stuart 34995. E-mail admin@mctaxpayers.org or visit the Web site mctaxpayers.org.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
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    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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    Post Cape Coral--Firefighters Initiate Fitness Program

    News Press

    Firefighters getting fitter
    New weights part of fitness initiative

    By CHARLES RUNNELLS, crunnells@news-press.com



    Firefighters are always hauling something: wrecked car doors, accident victims, cumbersome fire hoses — not to mention the 40 pounds of equipment on their backs.

    It isn’t a job for weaklings, but many Cape Coral firefighters were once forced to keep strong with ratty weight benches and hand-me-down weights at their fire stations.

    Not anymore.

    In a new fitness push, the city has made a cash commitment to firefighters’ health and well-being. City leaders hope that translates into fitter, less-stressed firefighters.

    “We decided to take a more proactive, precautionary approach,” interim operations chief Tom Tomich said. “This isn’t a weight issue. Most of our people are in pretty good shape, and they watch what they eat.

    “We just want to prevent any pains and strains, and build up endurance.”

    The department began installing brand-new weight machines, treadmills and other fitness equipment last week, and they hope to have all seven fire stations outfitted within two weeks, Tomich said.

    Fire Chief Bill Van Helden believes the equipment can help save lives.

    “One of the major concerns we have is that approximately one-half of all line-of-duty fatalities are related to some sort of coronary issue,” he said. “We have started to go with the cardio and strength side.”

    Each of the Cape’s seven fire stations will have a training room outfitted with about $6,000 in gym-quality, durable equipment, Tomich said. That better guarantees the equipment will be there for years to come, he said.

    “A lot of people are going to use these machines,” he said. “These are big, strong people, and the machines have to be durable.”

    Lt. Michael Camelo of Station 5 has volunteered to help other firefighters with fitness and training questions, Tomich said. Camelo spearheaded the initiative and did most of the research on the new equipment.

    Capt. Tony Givens of Station 6 couldn’t wait for the weightlifting equipment to arrive.

    Givens works out twice per week at the station with used free weights and an old bench. He said the better-quality equipment will be a vast improvement.

    “I want to keep myself in shape to do my job,” he said. “You’re always lifting something.”

    Tomich said the weight machines are safer than free weights, since a spotter isn’t needed and the weight is better controlled by the machine.

    The weights and treadmills also will help prevent heart disease and high blood pressure — two big killers in the fire industry.

    If nothing else, the weight machines will help relieve the pressure and tension of being a firefighter.

    “This will be a big-time stress reliever,” Tomich said. “We really needed this
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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    Post Coral Springs Fla--Ambulance Service Fails to generat predicted $$

    Slow start for Coral Springs ambulance

    BY SALLIE JAMES
    Staff Writer
    Posted April 14 2003

    CORAL SPRINGS · When this city decided to get into the business of transporting non-emergency medical patients this year, city administrators saw dollar signs.

    But records show the service, using a single ambulance, is off to a crawl and the local union president says emergency and non-emergency services are suffering.

    The venture is operating in the red, and rescue workers assigned for emergency duties are having to provide the nonemergency service.

    "It's created a safety issue," said Chris Bator, a fire lieutenant paramedic and president of the Coral Springs Metro Broward Firefighters Local 3080. "We are robbing Peter to pay Paul, and neither service is being done at a high quality. We are short everywhere."

    City Manager Mike Levinson acknowledges the new service -- which handles an average of one to two transports a day -- is not generating enough money. He denies the quality of public protection has dipped.

    "If we need additional resources, we can call upon other ambulances or rescue vehicles from other parts of the city," Levinson said.

    Coral Springs, in November, became the first city to be given permission by Broward County to offer non-emergency transports, a service designed to take patients from one hospital to another. Traditionally, private ambulance companies provided the service.

    "It's a little bit slower than expected," Levinson said. "The first 90 days has really been a learning experience, a ramping-up period. We anticipate it to pick up. "

    The city initially paid off-duty rescue workers overtime to staff the vehicle.

    According to the finance department, the city paid rescue workers $35,657 in overtime January through March to staff the transport vehicle. Patients who used the service during that period were billed $34,530, the city said.

    To cut the loss, Levinson this month cut overtime, and now workers staff the vehicle as part of their regular duty shifts, handling emergency and nonemergency calls.

    "We are [just] bringing operating costs in line with demand for the service," Levinson said, adding that two fully trained non-emergency drivers may be hired by the end of the year.

    The city initially hoped the service would bring in about $400,000 its full first year, but that figure was revised to about $170,000 because it started later than expected, said Fire Chief Donald Haupt Jr.

    Under the current arrangement, two on-duty rescue workers staff the non-emergency transport vehicle from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and run rescue calls with it if they are not doing a patient transport, Bator said. After 7 p.m., the transport vehicle goes out of service, and the two rescue workers return to whatever Coral Springs fire station they would normally be assigned, Bator said.

    Malcolm Cohen, chief executive officer for Medics Ambulance that operates 25 private ambulances in Broward, predicted the city would not make money because they only have one vehicle with limited jurisdiction and hours of operation.

    "Operating one vehicle, I could never make money. I would lose money," said Cohen, also a city competitor.

    Nevertheless, Levinson is optimistic. He said figures show demand for Coral Springs' service is rising with eight transfers in January, 23 in February and 54 in March. "No way are we thinking of scrapping the service," he said. "Demand is continuing to grow."

    Sallie James can be reached at Sjames@sun-sentinel.com or 954-572-2019.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
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    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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    Post Boca Raton--Groundbreaking for New Station

    BOCA Beacon

    Groundbreaking for fire station

    Construction started on a planned 10,000 sq. ft. public safety building on Monday, April 7, after a groundbreaking ceremony the Friday before.

    The ceremony, led by fire chief Dave Edmonds, recognized local fire fighters and EMS crews. Past and present fire personnel, including Darrell Polk, one of the island's first chiefs and Chief Dave Edmonds, who presently manages the Boca Grande Fire Department, dug the first shovels of dirt.

    The planned building will house local fire fighters, police officers and emergency medical teams. The fire department is presently operating out of a temporary station on East Railroad Avenue, north of the Gasparilla Island Water Association.

    The project should take an estimated 12 to 18 months to complete, according to David Dyche, head of the building committee.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
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    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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    Post Deland Fla--County and City Officials Work Together to Improve Service

    Daytona Beach News Journal

    Fighting fires may get more efficient


    By MICHAEL HAUN
    STAFF WRITER
    Last updated: Apr 15, 02:24 AM

    DELAND -- Firefighters heading out to calls in the fast-growing northern part of town have a new home base that fire officials said will help them shave precious minutes off their response times.
    Meanwhile, the city of DeLand and Volusia County are moving closer to an agreement that will allow the closest firefighters -- whether they work for the city or county -- to respond to a blaze or accident.

    The city formally opened its new north-end fire substation this weekend. Before this, firefighters worked at the city's lone fire station downtown.

    As the city's borders began to grow, the time it took for fire crews to respond to calls for help began to grow as well, said DeLand Fire Chief George Graves.

    "We were looking at a place where we could cut down our response time in the north end," Graves said, adding that it takes firefighters about six minutes to arrive at some north DeLand locations.

    The new substation should cut that time down to about four minutes, he said.

    And it might improve the city's fire rating, Graves said, a move that would lower insurance rates for home and business owners.

    The 5,300-square-foot building is on County Road 92, just west of the intersection of U.S. 17.

    The city has hired six additional firefighters to staff the station, said Assistant City Manager Michael Pleus. It's also home to emergency crews from EVAC, which helped fund construction of the $575,000 building.

    The city and county are also pressing on with a first-response pact, Pleus said.

    Essentially, such an agreement would erase jurisdictional lines in case of an emergency.

    "When you need help, you don't care who comes. You just want somebody to help you," Graves said. "As mobile as society is today, you can't have jurisdictional minds."

    The city and county have a mutual aid agreement, meaning one could call on the other only for help after it has exhausted all its resources.

    This latest agreement would allow crews at the nearest fire station to respond to an emergency.

    Pleus said the deal would allow the city to move more quickly in places such as Spring Hill, while the county would have faster access to areas including Victoria Park.

    Future planning for fire protection would also become more of a joint operation, he said.

    "We would agree to plan for future fire substations with the county," Pleus said, adding that details of the plan are still being ironed out.

    "It's very complex. But hopefully it will be ready within the next few months," he said.

    michael.haun@news-jrnl.com
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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    Default Port Charlotte Fla--Baby who fell in Pool is OK

    Charlotte Herald Tribune

    Baby who fell into pool stable in hospital
    STAFF REPORT

    PORT CHARLOTTE -- A 1-year-old girl was recovering Monday afternoon at Bon Secours-St. Joseph hospital after falling into a swimming pool.

    The girl fell into the pool at her family's home in the 22400 block of Quasar Boulevard about 11:30 a.m., said Dee Hawkins, Charlotte County Fire & EMS spokeswoman.

    Her father performed some resuscitative breathing on her and, when paramedics arrived, the girl was breathing weakly. Emergency workers treated her and transported her to the hospital where she was listed in stable condition Monday afternoon, Hawkins said.




    Last modified: April 15. 2003 12:00AM
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
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    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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    Post Volusia County Fla--3 Cities Equip Emergency Vehicles with Laptop Computers

    Daytona Beach News Journal

    City vehicles receive laptops
    By MARK I. JOHNSON
    STAFF WRITER
    Last update: 15 April 2003


    NEW SMYRNA BEACH -- Computers are everywhere, even in public safety vehicles.

    Police and fire departments in Edgewater, New Smyrna Beach and Port Orange have joined the information age with the installation of new laptop computers in their patrol cars and fire trucks.

    But there will be no surfing the 'Net, at least not yet, officials said. These computers are designed to provide information emergency workers now receive by radio.

    "This will allow an officer to pull up a call on the screen and read the notes from the communications officer. It gives safety alerts and a history of the address, so (he or she) does not have to ask questions over the air," said New Smyrna Beach Police Sgt. Bill Drossman.

    Drossman is coordinating his department's training on the mobile communications terminals (MCT).

    "These make our job a lot easier and speeds up the entire process," added New Smyrna Patrolman David Brugh. "It lets you do things on your own without having to rely on someone else." Brugh said officers will be able to get maps at the touch of a button.

    In addition to dispatch information, the computers will provide a wireless connection to various networks such as the National Crime Information Center and Florida Crime Information Center, allowing road officers to make criminal history queries or check on stolen property.

    That instant access to information is what has Edgewater Chief Mike Ignasiak so excited about the system.

    "We had a call yesterday where an officer pulled a car over and had information that it has been pulled over (traffic stop) twice before, before he got out of his patrol car," the chief said. "The power of information is going to be transferred directly to the officers on the street."

    And soon, officers will not have to leave their cars to write their reports. There are plans in the works to install that software by July.

    Drossman said the computers have Internet capability, but the decision on whether to access the World Wide Web will be up to the individual agency.

    The computers are part of the consolidated dispatch program between New Smyrna Beach, Edgewater and Port Orange.

    When all three cities are on line, they will be able to share information over the terminals.


    Tom Fitzgerald, information systems manager for Port Orange, helped develop the program.

    "This was part of the regional communications center when it was proposed," he said. "Port Orange had mobile data terminals in their cars and suggested it to the consortium."

    However, he said, the new software system is light years above his city's old computers.

    One of the key benefits of the new software is its automatic vehicle location function, he said. The new units will allow communications officers to know immediately where each patrol car or other vehicle is situated.

    "That is a big safety enhancement," Drossman said. "If an officer's radio is cut off, the dispatcher will still be able to find his car and direct others to the area."

    The vehicle location software also will benefit fire departments, said Edgewater Fire Chief Tracey Barlow.

    By knowing where each engine is, he said, dispatchers will be able to see which unit is closest to an emergency and send it, rather than having to call around on the radio.

    The computers also allow firefighters to call up floor plans on buildings, pre-incident plans for various locations and the locations of the nearest fire hydrants and how much water they can produce.

    "We will also be able to look up the characteristics of hazardous materials," he said.

    But it is the location system and reduction of radio traffic that are the biggest pluses, according to Barlow.

    "That frees up people on both ends and expedites getting emergency calls (sent) out," he said.

    New Smyrna Beach police are up and running with the new MCTs, and Port Orange is about halfway through, with Edgewater close behind. The cities' fire departments also are working on installations.

    Cost figures for the project were not immediately available.

    mark.johnson@news-jrnl.com
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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    Post Key West Fla--After 1 Year--Fire still under investigation

    Key West News

    Key West synagogue arson unsolved after one year
    BY J.J. HYSELL
    keysnews.com


    KEY WEST -- A year has passed since someone set fire to the B'nai Zion Synagogue on United Street, causing extensive damage and disrupting the congregation's worship, finances and peace of mind.

    The destruction resulting from the blaze -- a crime which remains unsolved -- still hampers the inner landscape of the structure designed by Charles "Sonny" McCoy.

    The devastation was especially difficult to accept for longtime members of the synagogue, which was founded in 1887 and is believed to be the oldest continuously running congregation in South Florida.

    "It was quite a change when I went in the first time, to see everything down to the bare walls," said Jack Einhorn, executive director emeritus and former congregation president from 1965 to 1995. "It was very depressing. Now, it's kind of like we're getting used to being in there."

    The investigation into who started the fire and exactly how it occurred is ongoing. Bonnie Levin, investigator with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said the bureau is analyzing an unusually large amount of computer-related viruses that were sent to B'nai Zion through the synagogue's Web site.

    "That's our main focus right now," Levin said.

    A reward is being offered for any information that leads to an arrest in the arson case.

    "I think they are doing a good job to try to discover who did it," synagogue President Dr. Fred Covan said.

    Thanks to a strong flow of local and national support, the synagogue is preparing for a renovation that will repair much of what was tarnished in the April 2002 incident, as well as modernize the building, which was constructed in 1968.

    Covan said he isn't sure exactly what the total cost of rebuilding will be because the project must include not only structural refurbishing but compliance with new codes and measures as well.

    Local architect Bert Bender has designed and created the plans, and Covan said groundbreaking could begin as soon as May.

    Staunch fund-raising efforts have contributed an estimated $400,000 to the cause. A Winter Ball fund-raiser held earlier this year bolstered the fund with about $85,000 in donations.

    "The support has been incredible from both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities," Covan said. "That's what has made this experience tolerable, the support we've received from across the country and locally."

    In addition, Covan said he is interviewing a new Rabbi candidate to fill the position vacated by Joseph Hirsch, who left following the fire.


    jhysell@keysnews.com
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
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    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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    Post Metro Dade Fla--Jail deemed unsafe and hazardous

    Miami Herald

    Jail called unsafe dungeon
    Repairs needed for fire alarms
    BY KARL ROSS
    kross@herald.com

    Miami-Dade County's top building official on Tuesday declared the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center an ''unsafe structure'' because its fire alarms and smoke sensors don't work.

    Corrections officials were ordered to make repairs to the jail more than a year ago but failed to comply with an order to do so from the county's fire marshal.

    Building Director Charles Danger said the 1,300-bed, maximum-security facility may have to be evacuated if the county's Unsafe Structures Board refuses to go along with an emergency plan to keep it open while repairs are made.

    ''That place is a dungeon,'' Danger said.

    ``It's a nine-story building with no windows. And if there's a fire, it could be a real disaster with major loss of life.''

    Danger said that TGK's fire alarms don't work and neither do smoke sensors that would activate fans to prevent smoke from spreading throughout the prison. And he said a sprinkler system hasn't been properly tested.

    ''What kills people in fires is smoke, and there's no smoke evacuation system,'' Danger said.

    That's especially critical for a prison because inmates can't be released onto the street in case of a fire. Instead, they must be transfered to a safe, smoke-free area such as a courtyard, officials said.

    Danger noted TGK, 7000 NW 41st St., is not an old building, but said scant attention has been paid to its fire-safety systems since it first opened in 1989.

    A corrections spokesman said he couldn't elaborate on the problems because of ongoing talks with fire-rescue and building officials about how to fix them.

    ''It's still an open issue that we're trying to resolve,'' said Charles McRay, deputy director of corrections.

    He said ''vendor problems'' were to blame for the department's inability to comply with a year-old consent order issued by the fire marshal.

    Fire-Rescue Chief Alfredo Suarez, who is also the county's fire marshal, said problems with TGK's fire-safety system date back to late 1999.

    At that time, some of the alarms worked, and efforts were made to repair the ones that didn't.

    `WE WENT BACKWARD'

    ''But rather than progressing, we went backward,'' said Suarez, who added that by 2001, he had to write a letter to Corrections Director Lois Spears about the problems.

    The fire-safety problems may not be limited to TGK.

    A memorandum issued Tuesday by County Manager Steve Shiver notes that two other county-run prisons ``could imminently face a similar situation.''

    Those are the Training and Treatment Facility, also known as ''the Stockade,'' and the county's largest prison -- the Metro West Correctional Center with 3,098 beds.

    Shiver said he was ''upset'' that corrections officials allowed the fire-safety systems to fall into disrepair.

    ''I recall my budget hearing with the corrections department last year when I specifically asked them about any deferred maintenance items, and all they talked about was food warmers,'' Shiver said. ``I'm pretty upset about that.''

    CONTINGENCY PLAN

    He said the county has prepared a contingency plan in case the Unsafe Structures Board orders TGK vacated.

    Assistant County Manager Alicia Schreiber, who oversees the Building Department, said she doesn't expect that will happen.

    She said a fire-safety firm, Semplex Inc., has already been hired to conduct an assessment and jump-start repairs.

    She said other interim safety measures have been put into effect such as putting TGK under a 24-hour ''fire watch,'' updating its emergency evacuation plan and deploying portable fire hoses.

    ''I can tell you that so many safeguards have been put into place that it would be unreasonable not to let [inmates] stay there,'' Schreiber said.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    Post Lee County Fla--School Safety Chief Sues Over Dismissal

    NEWS PRESS

    School safety chief to sue Lee district
    He says he’s being let go for speaking out
    By JENNIFER BOOTH REED, jreed@news-press.com


    Ernie Scott, the Lee school district director of safety, security and inspections, plans to file a federal civil rights lawsuit over his pending dismissal. He alleges that Superintendent James Browder fired him out of spite and for raising concerns about the health and safety of children who attend Lee schools.

    Scott, an eight-year employee, is one of 15 executive-level administrators and directors whose jobs are being eliminated or reclassified when annual contracts expire June 30.

    Browder says Scott is not being targeted. Scott is one of a number of administrators whose positions are being eliminated or changed as part of a major management overhaul.

    Scott’s job has been on the line before. He has made public his concerns over indoor air quality, fire code violations and maintenance issues in a district that he said would rather keep problems under wraps.

    Most recently, Scott contacted the Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Environmental Protection over alleged failures to properly protect workers who were renovating asbestos-ridden school buildings.

    His lawyer, Patrick Geraghty, said he will sue the district for violating Scott’s First Amendment protections that allow him to speak out about what he’s seen.

    Although administrators such as Scott work on one-year contracts that their bosses can opt not to renew, the employees still have certain protections, Geraghty said. He also challenged the idea that Browder is downsizing the district for efficiency and cost savings.

    “We’ll let a jury decide who’s telling the truth on that,” Geraghty said.

    Browder said Scott was treated no differently than the other administrators whose jobs are affected by his reorganization plan.

    “Ernie’s position was eliminated in the reorganization. He was told just like many others that there would be ample opportunity to apply for jobs,” Browder said.

    Browder said the details of the plan would become clear Thursday as he presents it to the school board.

    Scott’s case could spark a wave of related suits as long-time district officials try to find some way to keep their jobs — or at least get back at a system that cut short their careers.

    Scott thinks his position was terminated not because of district downsizing but because of recent disagreements with Browder — a charge Browder denies. He said he and Browder clashed several times during the past year over things such as inspections of Fort Myers High School and Browder’s use of portable classrooms.

    Browder was accused of using unsafe portable classrooms in a television report last February. Scott insists it was a fire marshal, not him, who raised concerns about safety.

    “He told me on the telephone that there would be a day of reckoning,” Scott said of a conversation he and Browder allegedly had after the portables incident. Browder said he never would make such a threat.

    “I stand by what I’ve done my whole career. I don’t do things like that,” Browder said.

    Scott said Browder isn’t the only top-ranking district official who is out to get him. He said school board Chairwoman Jeanne Dozier clashed with him in the fall when he gave a presentation about safety statistics at board member Jane Kuckel’s request.

    Scott found that students were involved in fewer accidents this school year, despite a change in school schedules that had parents worried about their children’s safety at the bus stop.

    Dozier, who was opposed to this year’s start times, allegedly told Scott after that board meeting: “I am so mad I never want to see you again.” The two haven’t spoken since, Scott said.

    Dozier denied making such a statement and said she did not realize Scott was upset with her.

    “That is not true,” she said. “He better be careful of what he says. I can file a lawsuit, too.”

    Scott took his position as safety director in April 2000. He’s made few friends in the upper ranks of the administration, but he insisted he’s been trying to protect Lee County students and school employees from unsafe conditions.

    Scott said it was he who blew the lid on the fire code violations. The state Department of Education almost refused to let classes resume in August 2000 because so many schools had code violations.

    He also was one of the key players in cleaning up indoor air quality problems in the district. Several lawsuits have been filed over indoor air problems, including one from former employee Larry McAfee, who, like Scott, believes he was let go for saying too much.

    Scott said his bosses took away his authority for indoor air quality in August after he cautioned against running air conditioning systems at Cape Coral High School.

    Just last month, Scott sent memos to the state DEP and the EPA, accusing the district of failing to follow regulations pertaining to the renovation of buildings that contain asbestos.

    No one in the EPA’s criminal division could be reached for comment, but Lisa Douglas, the external affairs director for the local DEP office said the EPA contacted her office for assistance in looking into the school district matter.

    School board attorney Keith Martin said he has not been made aware of any federal or state investigation.

    Browder, who’s been on the job for less than a month, said he wasn’t aware of all of Scott’s allegations or the circumstances surrounding them.

    Geraghty, who also is handling three of the indoor air quality cases, said he expects to file Scott’s suit by next week.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
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    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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    Post Plantation Fla--Tempers flare over solicitations

    Sun-Sentinel

    Plantation fire chief: Be wary of calls

    By Jeremy Milarsky
    Staff Writer
    Posted April 16 2003

    PLANTATION · Tensions between this city's volunteer fire department -- the largest in Florida -- and the paid firefighters' unions around Broward County have flared again.

    Plantation Fire Chief Robert Pudney sent out a warning this month to people in his city that they should be skeptical of anyone calling and asking for a donation to help local firefighters. Plantation's fire department does not ask for money by telephone, he said.

    The Plantation fire department spokesman says the phone solicitations come from the Broward County Council of Professional Firefighters, which does not represent Plantation volunteers.

    "Say, `No, thank you,' and hang up," the chief said in a written public statement.

    In response, Joe Benevides, the president of the union council, said solicitors for his organization are warned not to claim to represent Plantation's firefighters, but they do give the city fire protection as a backup.

    Whenever a major fire or medical emergency happens in the Central Broward city, other fire-rescue departments are called to help, he said.

    He added that solicitors do not intentionally call people in Plantation, but sometimes their call list inadvertently includes homes in the city.

    Benevides said Pudney's warning appeared to be politically timed.

    Several weeks ago, a group of Plantation firefighters approached one of the county's unions and asked for help organizing, Benevides said.

    "The city fathers in Plantation are always negative to the council and the paid firefighters," Benevides said. "[But] there is no fire, and very few medical calls, that if it's a mutual-aid call, where you're not going to see [unionized] firefighters from Lauderhill, Sunrise and Davie at the scene."

    Plantation Fire Battalion Chief Joel Gordon, the department's spokesman, said efforts to unionize his department have failed in the past.

    For example, about a year ago, the 175 volunteers voted on whether to become a paid, unionized department. Members voted to remain a volunteer organization by a 3-1 margin, Gordon said.

    Gordon added that mutual aid calls, ones in which Plantation asks for help from neighboring cities, are rare.

    The last time Plantation firefighters asked for help with a fire was when the Plantation Towne Mall burned down in 1996, Gordon said.

    Edd Weiner, a Plantation accountant and supporter of the city's Volunteer Firefighter Association, said Pudney warns residents about phone solicitations almost every year, and that efforts to unionize the department have been unsuccessful.

    "This happens on a yearly basis, and it goes to sleep rather quickly afterwards, because the folks who would like a full-time, paid union don't have the support," he said.

    Jeremy Milarsky can be reached at jmilarsky@sun-sentinel.com or 954-572-2020.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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    Post Orlando Fla--SWIFTMUD Conducts Prescribed Burn to Control Wildfire Potential

    Orlando Sentinel

    Planned burn set today for Hunters Creek

    Sentinel staff reports
    Posted April 16, 2003


    State officials will hold a controlled burn this week in the Hunters Creek area as a way to slash some of the plants that would be susceptible to wildfire.

    Controlled or prescribed burns help avoid problem wildfires by carefully burning away the vegetation that builds up over time, especially in rural areas that are surrounded by development.

    The South Florida Water Management District is handling the burn, which will be in the Shingle Creek area just north of the Central Florida GreeneWay and south of Central Florida Parkway on John Young Parkway. The burn will run from today through Friday.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    Post Escambia County Fla--Fire Taxes to Increase

    Pensacola News Journal

    Healthy increase likely in county fire assessments
    Steve Mraz
    @PensacolaNewsJournal.com

    The Escambia County Commission has informally agreed on how it will fund millions of dollars of improvements to county fire services for the next five years.

    To support improved fire services, a majority of commissioners at a Tuesday morning workshop favored raising a flat fee for residential users rather than establishing a taxing unit based on property values.

    Under the favored option known as a municipal services benefit unit, the $50-a-year fire fee per home would increase to $86.04 per home.

    "Personally, I would prefer a MSBU rather than a taxing district," said Commission Chairwoman Marie Young. "I'm thinking the word `taxing' turns people off."

    The other option would have a maximum annual cost of $96.10 for residents, but low-income residents would not have to pay.

    In its five-year strategic plan, Escambia County Fire-Rescue has proposed an average annual funding of $10.8 million. It currently receives $5.8 million.

    Because of a tight budget year coming up, commissioners told County Fire Chief Ken Perkins to try to trim his proposed budget.

    "This is an extremely high budget," said Commissioner Janice Gilley. "I think we reserve the right to modify the budget. We can make modifications on both sides."

    Perkins said he would revisit the issue with county fire officials this week and "see where we come up."

    During the next five years, the funding increase would add 44 new career firefighters, 15 pumper trucks, 20 support vehicles and much more.

    Perkins previously had said his five-year budget request - based on recommendations from a $75,000 study in 2000 - provided the basic necessities.

    "What we're bringing to you is the minimum of what we need over the next five years," he said.

    If it chooses to move forward, the County Commission must approve a funding plan by July 1, said County Administrator George Touart.

    Also Tuesday, the commission approved, on a 3-1 vote, a contract for Anderson Columbia Co. Inc. to do infrastructure work at the M. Langley Bell Heritage Oaks Commerce Park. Commissioner Tom Banjanin cast the no vote, and Commissioner Cliff Barnhart was absent because of illness.

    Because Anderson Columbia was the lowest bidder, the county had to award the contract if it wanted to uphold its agreement with Navy Federal Credit Union to provide the infrastructure work by July 1. The credit union wants to occupy space in the commerce park by September or October.

    Gilley said she was not comfortable with the history of Anderson Columbia.

    "This makes me sick, absolutely sick to do this. But we have to have the jobs," she said. "We have to have this commerce park."

    Assistant County Administrator Robert McLaughlin did attest that Anderson Columbia did excellent work on a recent county project.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    Post Edgewater Fla--Mutual Response Agreement on Table

    Edgewater OKs county responder proposal

    By CINDY F. CRAWFORD
    STAFF WRITER
    Last update: 17 April 2003


    EDGEWATER -- Edgewater's Fire Department often helps neighboring cities with emergency calls -- when asked.

    Soon, they could respond to emergencies anywhere in the county -- no assistance requests required.

    City Council members Monday unanimously agreed to support plans for a countywide first-response system, which immediately would send the closest fire truck, regardless of boundaries, to emergencies.

    The support came with a few stipulations, most notably a requisite that other departments provide equal services.

    "Our citizens pay for a certain level of service and expect to get it," said Mayor Don Schimdt, who also serves as chairman of the Volusia County Council of Governments, which drafted the plan. "We need to make sure whoever is responding will have the same service we provide."

    In a three-page letter to VCOG, Schmidt and City Manager Ken Hooper listed several improvements needed before Edgewater will join in.

    The top issue would require other fire departments, specifically Volusia County, to meet Edgewater's staffing level of three paid professionals per shift and to keep an average response time of four minutes.

    It takes a Volusia County truck from Oak Hill nine minutes to get to an emergency on Roberts Road, Fire Chief Tracey Barlow said. And there usually is only one firefighter on staff, he added.

    "It would be a one-way trade with the county," Barlow said.

    Edgewater helps with about 350 emergencies a year in unincorporated county areas, in addition to the city's 2,000 calls, he said. To regularly respond to the county, Edgewater would need a third fire truck, which would be paid for by using city residents' taxes, he said.

    "We've talked about first-response for 17 years, but it always comes down to financing," Barlow said.

    First-response could work if departments compensate each other for the unequal service and equipment, he said.

    Also in the letter, Schmidt and Hooper stated they were concerned about Volusia County's plan to create a division to oversee the first-response system as part of the emergency medical services ordinance. Edgewater officials worry the division would exert control over the city fire departments.

    "We're not ready to give up what we have," Schmidt said.

    VCOG leaders first began drafting a first-response plan last year after a study recommended services be connected to improve reaction time, said Roy Schleicher, the agency's executive director.

    During last month's meeting, VCOG asked cities to give input by April 25 so discussion could take place in the April 28 meeting.

    "Most cities are saying 'yes,' " Schleicher said. "They have a responsibility to the people on the streets to send trained people with updated equipment, and they take that responsibility seriously."

    So far, Edgewater is one of four cities to answer. Last month, South Daytona officials agreed to participate, but also outlined concerns about comparable services provided by other departments. Lake Helen and DeBary also passed resolutions in support. Both have contracts with Volusia County for emergency services.

    A VCOG committee with leaders from across the county will look over the concerns and come up with a unified first-response program, Schleicher said.

    To link dispatchers, the committee could combine city dispatchers into four regional offices, Schmidt said. The Southeast Volusia office already is set up between Edgewater, New Smyrna Beach and Port Orange and could soon include Ponce Inlet and perhaps South Daytona, Daytona Beach Shores and Oak Hill someday, he added.

    cindy.crawford@news-jrnl.com
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    Post Lakeland Fla--3 Month Investigation Nets Arsonist

    THE LEDGER

    LAKELAND
    Man Arrested On Arson Charges

    A Lakeland man was arrested Tuesday on accusations that he burned a Lakeland man's rugs, closet and kitchen, the Polk County Sheriff's Office reported.

    After a three-month investigation, Joshua Elliot, 18, was charged with arson and burglary. He was out of the Polk County Jail on Wednesday on $30,000 bail.

    In addition, investigators said Elliot damaged the home when he hit the walls with a 2-by-4.

    A friend of Elliot's at his home said that Elliot did not want to comment.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    Post Manatee County--Fire Chief Does Battle with County over Tax

    Bradenton/Manatee Herald

    Fire tax battle gets chief mad
    NICK MASON
    Herald Staff Writer

    MANATEE - Leaders of the Southern Manatee Fire Rescue District are upset that state legislation granting them more taxing power is in jeopardy, partly because of their tax relief fight with Tropicana Products Inc.

    Fire Chief Tom Hennessy said Tropicana is being greedy in pushing for a 50 percent discount on fire taxes and that a 32.5 percent discount proposed by state legislators as a compromise is still too much.

    Tropicana received a 50 percent discount for more than a decade under current state law, but district officials said the juice manufacturer stopped being eligible for the tax break two years ago when some Tropicana property was annexed into the city of Bradenton.

    "We're willing to give them 15 percent because they've been discounted over the years. We would compromise," Hennessy said Wednesday. "But a 50 percent discount is outrageous. I think they are being a bit greedy, yes."

    Steven Lezman, Tropicana's director of government affairs, could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but he defended a 50 percent tax break in a Feb. 24 letter to Hennessy.

    Lezman wrote that the company invests enough in personnel and equipment to handle emergencies, thereby "significantly diminishing the fire district's potential expenses for providing services to our facility."

    Early this year, fire district representatives said they and Lezman agreed on a 20 percent discount, but that deal fell through at a legislative hearing.

    Based on Tropicana's most recent annual fire tax, the company would save $43,625 per year with a 15 percent discount, $58,167 per year with a 20 percent discount, $94,522 per year with a 32.5 percent discount and $145,419 per year with a 50 percent discount.

    State Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, and state Reps. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, and Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton, said the 32.5 percent discount chosen by legislators was a split-the-difference compromise between the 15 percent offered by the fire district and 50 percent requested by Tropicana.

    "The delegation as a whole said lets split it in the middle, and it appears neither side is happy," Reagan said.

    Hennessy and Assistant Chief J. R. Thayer said they decided to speak publicly about the tax break battle after learning that Rep. Donna Clarke, R-Sarasota, wrote a letter to a House committee chairman asking him to kill the bill this session so issues could be resolved this summer.

    "That is totally unacceptable in our eyes," Thayer said.

    The proposed legislation would allow Southern Manatee to increase its levy of construction taxes called impact fees on new residences and commercial properties. Current impact fees produce about $175,000 this year, but proposed increases would boost the total to $400,000 to $500,000 per year, Thayer said.

    Property taxes, which were first authorized by voters in the fire district last year, will be higher than otherwise needed if the legislation is defeated and the fire district cannot increase impact fees, Hennessy and Thayer agreed.

    Clarke said her letter was intended to get fire district officials to explain why they need to increase impact fees and start collecting property taxes of up to 3.75 mills, which is $3.75 per $1,000 taxable value. She said district residents are contacting her, worried about how much fire taxes may rise.

    "This is a major tax increase for the residents," Clarke said. "The fire district hasn't talked to me about what they would do with this money."

    The $3.75 per $1,000 taxable value is the maximum tax rate allowed, but there is no plan to impose the maximum this year, Hennessy and Thayer said. The first year might be 60 or 70 cents per $1,000, which would generate about $1.9 million of income, Thayer said.

    Southern Manatee has a 10-year plan to build fire stations, add and replace fire trucks and other equipment and add 27 firefighters to the payroll.

    "That is where the money is going," Thayer said.

    Galvano, the delegation chairman, said he will talk with Clarke, fire department officials and Tropicana representatives in hopes of brokering a settlement to get the legislation passed this year.

    "My commitment is to get this worked out properly," Galvano said.

    Hennessy said new firefighting safety standards, steady population growth and a history of frugal budgets have created the need to collect more taxes. He does not want to fall another year behind.

    "The bottom line is the fire departments have not been able to keep up with the growth of the community in general," Hennessy said. "We are constantly trying to play catch-up."
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    Post Englewood Fla--Fire Dept. Trains With Air Support

    Sun-Herald

    Englewood Fire trains with Bayflite


    ENGLEWOOD -- There's a car wreck and someone is seriously hurt. A Bayflite medical helicopter is called in to transport the patient to a trauma hospital. Where the chopper lands and the safety of those around the landing site becomes the job of local emergency workers.

    Englewood Area Fire Control District firefighters and Sarasota County Fire & EMS paramedics gathered at Englewood Community Hospital's helipad Wednesday with Bayflite instructors to learn the ins and outs of setting up safe landing zones and dealing with emergency landings.

    As the firefighters converged at the helipad, the emergency helicopter touched down. A small crowd had gathered to watch the landing.

    Bayflite paramedic Will Schroeder explained to the group of about 20 firefighters and paramedics how to open the doors on the helicopter in case they are stuck. He also showed them how to shut down the helicopter in case the pilot becomes incapacitated during an emergency landing.

    "Our safety has to come first. It sounds weird, but it's essential for us to be available to help with the rescue of the patient," Schroeder told the group.

    After pointing out where the oxygen and gas tanks are located, Schroeder discussed the process of setting up safe landing zones.

    "We rely on you all to be our eyes to find things that could be obstacles," he said.

    He instructed the group to think safety first when a helicopter is approaching.

    "Wait until everything stops moving," he said. "Don't put yourself in jeopardy. While the pilot acts as a security guard once he has landed, everyone at the landing zone is still responsible for their safety and those around the area."

    Paramedic Mike Anderson asked if beaches should be avoided as landing zones.

    "The helicopter can produce winds up to 80 mph," Schroeder said. "You guys don't need to be sand blasted. If you have another choice, then use it, but if there isn't, then by all means, land us on the beach."

    Firefighters Lynn Edmonds and Keith Medvar said the training was important to their jobs, as well as interesting.

    "We don't get to get this close up to the helicopters usually," Medvar said.

    "The more training we can do, the better," Edmonds added. "When we are familiar with the way things work, it makes working together run more soothly."

    You can e-mail Alyssa Schnugg at schnugg@sun-herald.com
    By ALYSSA SCHNUGG
    Englewood Assistant Editor
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  22. #22
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    Default DOF Prescribed Burns

    PENSACOLA NEWS JOURNAL

    Fighting fire with fire
    Burns reduce wildfire threat
    Officials pick critical area sites for prescribed burns
    Sean Smith
    @PensacolaNewsJournal.com

    Damp soil is a welcome feeling underfoot for J.J. Bachant of Milton as she walks through a staging area for a prescribed burn.

    "It's good to feel the wet soils again. We have been dry," said Bachant, 31, a conservation ecologist with the Nature Conservancy.

    Bachant joined a coalition of forestry workers, major landowners and other organizations that set ablaze more than 2,000 acres of wet prairie and flatwoods owned by the Northwest Florida Water Management District at Garcon Point last week.

    A prescribed burn reduces the danger of wildfires by getting rid of underbrush and other potential fuel sources. And as wildfire season peaks this month and next, federal climate and fire officials hope El Nino-fueled rainfall will bring more of that damp soil and less of a fire threat.

    But that can change in a flash.

    Northwest Florida's typically sandy soil doesn't take long to lose its water. Dry, windy spring weather can spark a surge in wildfires.

    Burning crucial sites
    The two-man Pensacola office of the Northwest Florida Management District stewards more than 55,500 acres in Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties. The Garcon Point area is a crucial burn site, said Steve Brown, regional supervisor for the district.


    It is ringed with budding real estate development, major highways and approach zones for a number of airfields.


    "This is one of the more active areas for wildfires," Brown said. "Once you get a lightning strike where those fine grasses are allowed to build up, there is hardly any stopping the fire. For all the homeowners, (the burn) is like a fireproof insurance."

    Gulf Islands National Seashore recently conducted two burns in the Naval Live Oaks Area in south Santa Rosa County.

    Then there's almost no stopping it," Stewart said. "It's just one big wall of fire."

    Stewart saw the worst in the rain-parched 2001 season. The Hurst Hammock fire that year scorched some 1,500 acres as it raged along Perdido Bay. Stewart was one of more than 600 firefighters already battling the Mallory Swamp fire south of Tallahassee, which destroyed more than 60,000 acres. Thick undergrowth fueled the blaze.

    "The sky was on fire. You could see flames for 40 miles," Stewart said. "There were more than 100 tons of fuel per acre and most of it burned."

    The Garcon Point burn was scheduled by the Gulf Coastal Plain Ecosystem Partnership, a private-public partnership of large landowners and groups such as the Nature Conservancy, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Northwest Florida Water Management District, International Paper, Florida Division of Forestry and others.

    Prescribed burns also benefit wildlife by providing nutrients and improved habitat, said David Creamer, a senior forester with the Florida Division of Forestry.

    Turkey, deer and threatened animals such as red cockaded woodpeckers and gopher tortoise benefit from the burns, and entire ecosystems such as the longleaf pines common in Northwest Florida are dependent on fire.

    Perfect conditions needed
    Prescribed fires work best when conducted every two to six years, Bachant said. The Garcon Point area was last burned in May 1999, Brown said.

    Conditions for a burn must be perfect.

    For the Garcon burn last week, close to three inches of rain reduced the volatility of the undergrowth, and a following cold front guaranteed northwest winds the group needed.

    Fire crews set up perimeters along the roadway and north of where the blaze was to be set. A northwest wind from the cold front would drive the fire on a suicide march toward East Bay and keep smoke away from Interstate 10 and airfields at Eglin, Whiting and Pensacola Regional Airport.

    "We want the ground to be fairly saturated. If we get even one variable that's not within our limits we will shut the burn down," Brown said. "Everything has to be perfect."

    After setting a test blaze and verifying weather conditions one last time, helicopter pilot Blair McGarry launched to set the blaze from the air. An onboard machine spits out incendiary Ping-Pong balls laden with a chemical compound injected with antifreeze.

    Plumes of yellow and brown smoke billowed up behind the helicopter as it cruised up and down the fire line. Crews near the roadway sparked the final phase of the fire with drip torches.

    The fire blackened the earth but left the precious protective layer of soil and decomposing vegetation intact to help retain moisture and prevent rainfall runoff, Stewart said.

    It won't take long for the blackened prairie to rebound with wildflowers for people using the Garcon Point area's hiking trails.

    "You'll start getting the green up within days," Brown said. "As far as a food source for wildlife, nesting habitat and wildflowers, the growth is spectacular."

    Ways to prevent wildfires

    Arson, runaway trash fires and lightning are the three leading causes of wildfires in Florida, Division of Forestry statistics show.

    It only takes a gust of wind for burning yard trash to turn into a rampant wildfire. Experts recommend the following precautions for wildfire season, which peaks in April and May:

    If burning debris:

    >Burn in a barrel or a pit with a wire mesh cover, and burn only on days allowed by county authorities. Fires must start after 9 a.m. and be extinguished at least one hour before sunset.

    >Clear at least 10 feet around the fire area to keep it from spreading. Attend the fire, and keep a shovel, a rake and water nearby.

    >Set fire the back at least 25 feet from forest or wildland areas; 100 feet from public roads; 50 feet from your home; 300 feet from other occupied buildings.

    Protecting your home:

    The Division of Forestry recommends at least 30 feet of "defensible space" between wooded areas and your home, and at least 100 feet for pine woods. To achieve that, make your property:

    >Lean: Prune shrubs and cut back branches, especially within 15 feet of your chimney.

    >Clean: Remove dead plant material from around your home, and ensure there is no continuous line of vegetation to the home.

    >Green: Plant fire-resistant vegetation that stays green throughout the year.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  23. #23
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    Post Hernando County Searches for New Director of Emergency Services

    TAMPA TRIBUNE

    Search narrows for new director
    FRED HIERS fhiers@hernandotoday.com
    Published: Apr 17, 2003

    There was a time when the drama being reported about the county's emergency management office rivaled that of a soap opera plot.
    Its former director resigned under pressure and a cloud of sexual harassment accusations about 18 months ago.
    Two of his senior staff openly disobeyed orders during an anthrax scare and were later disciplined for insubordination.
    The county administrator, who later also resigned under pressure, lifted their punishment under pressure from commissioners.
    The department reached a low point when former Emergency Management Director Bill Appleby said publicly that if there were a county-wide emergency he was not sure his staff would follow orders, putting the effectiveness of his department in doubt.
    That was when the county paid a consultant to evaluate the department and help its staff, including its director, to get along with one another.
    Recently, one of the department's senior staff was forced to quit her job after she drove a county emergency vehicle to a union meeting where she ordered a beer.
    A year ago, the department's daytime drama finally got cancelled when commissioners put the organization under the fire department's oversight, with Deputy Fire Chief Danny Roberts heading the emergency office.
    The department's embarrassing history appears to have now turned a corner, with the worst behind it.
    County officials are narrowing their search for a permanent director this week to five or six of their best candidates. County officials will interview the candidates during the next two weeks and make a recommendation to County Administrator Dick Radacky soon afterward.
    About 25 have applied for the job.
    The annual salary range for the post is between $43,222 and $72,030.
    "We're looking for someone who gets along with other people and department heads," said Human Resources Director Barbara Dupre. "I think the department has a lot of potential. It needs someone that can give it good direction."
    Dupre, who is also on the selection committee to narrow the search, said no one candidate stands clearly above the others.
    Roberts, who also sits on the selection committee, said he learned as much from the job as the department's employees learned from him.
    "I feel very comfortable with what I know now," he said. "I really learned about the nuts and bolts of the department."
    "I'm very proud of what we've achieved.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  24. #24
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    Post Osceola County News

    Orlando Sentinel

    OSCEOLA IN BRIEF

    County has agreed to hire 9 paramedics

    From Sentinel staff reports
    Posted April 18, 2003

    KISSIMMEE -- Osceola County has agreed to hire nine paramedics who are now in firefighting training school but could be answering calls in about four months.

    The workers, who will start at $27,000 annually, began firefighting training this week and should be finished in about two months. After a two-month mentoring program, the paramedics will be placed at county stations, county fire Chief Frank Montes de Oca said.

    In exchange, the paramedics have signed two-year contracts to work for Osceola, giving the county an edge in hiring trained medics.

    The positions are requested in the 2003-04 budget, which begins Oct. 1. Until then, the salaries will be paid with money in the fire fund for other unfilled posts.


    St. Cloud plans public-safety fair Saturday

    ST. CLOUD -- Have fun and learn about safety Saturday at the police and fire departments' second annual public-safety fair.

    Free food, tours of the Police Department and booths on proper car seats, bicycle helmets, 911 and gun use will be offered. Clowns, face painting, a moonwalk and snow cones will be available for children. Police Officer Ed Mateo and his K-9, Niko, will give demonstrations, and parents can have their children fingerprinted.

    The event is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the city's public-safety building, 4700 Neptune Road.

    County dispatcher of the year to be honored

    KISSIMMEE -- County public-safety officials will gather to honor the county dispatcher of the year tonight.

    The Telecommunicator of the Year award plaque will be presented to a dispatcher who has shown special skill in the stressful field, Deputy Al DeArmas said.

    About 125 officials from the county's Fire Rescue Department, the Sheriff's Office, and Kissimmee and St. Cloud police departments are expected to attend. The banquet begins at 6 p.m. at the Kissimmee Civic Center.

    April Hunt, Susan Jacobson and Willoughby Mariano of the Sentinel staff contributed to this report.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  25. #25
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    Post Golf Anyone?

    COMMENTARY: JAKE VEST
    Firefighters show hearts, not golf skill

    By Jake Vest | Sentinel Staff Writer
    Posted April 19, 2003

    Since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, very little in a negative way has been said about firefighters. Everybody loves them. Their pictures are everywhere, plays have been written about them and they have become, in many ways, symbols of everything that is right about us.

    Considering the good publicity ride the profession has been getting, you would almost think members of it are generally incapable of doing anything wrong.

    Generally maybe they are. Specifically it is a different story. Playing golf around a group of them, to be exact, might drastically change some of your thinking on the subject of infallibility.

    Of course, you can't speak for how all firefighters play this game any more than you can speak for how all firefighters will handle themselves under any circumstances. You can only go by what you observe.

    When you observe enough instances of selflessness and courage, you have to conclude that this is, again generally, a pretty special breed of human being. That's exactly what happened in New York, and that's exactly what happens on a daily basis in a thousand other places. As far as it goes, the picture is accurate.

    But fair is fair. And applying the same principles of seeing and believing to what I observed at the Shane Kelly Memorial Scholarship Fund tournament a week ago Friday, one has to arrive at a completely different set of conclusions.

    In some circumstances these people are incapable of doing wrong; in certain other circumstances, they are simply incapable. Some people who were out on the golf course that day, to be frank, were born to bowl.

    I hope that doesn't seem too harsh.

    The last thing I would want to do is be unfair to a group of dedicated public employees -- especially a bunch who apparently spend a lot of time lifting weights and who, as a rule, aren't afraid of much of anything and have access to axes.

    It also might be ill-advised to irritate people you are apt to run across again. Fire department employees toting lifesaving equipment would probably be the first people you meet right after meeting a fellow motorist head-on out on the highway -- a possibility in Central Florida that verges on likelihood.

    Same for a gunshot wound or a cat up a tree or a heart attack. Who you gonna call? 911. Who are they going to send? A fire department employee, in most cases. In my age bracket you want to stay on the good side of the folks with the defibrillators.

    Still, you have to report what you see and this was a day where questions came easier than answers.

    How could that many big old iron-pumping Popeye arms, swinging so hard, hit so many golf balls such short distances on such a regular basis? The front of a driver is essentially a flat surface. How, limiting ourselves to the laws of physics as we know them, could someone using that tool hit a golf ball sideways? In opposite sideways directions on successive swings?

    How could three out of four in the same group do the same thing?

    How can a man who can consistently swing and miss the planet Earth while he is standing on it be reasonably expected to knock a door down with an ax? These are issues of public safety, and the public has a right to know certain things.

    For example: If you should find yourself in a tight spot where your rescue depends on someone hitting a pitching wedge a certain distance in any particular direction, you might as well just sit there and burn quietly. The people at the other end of the 911 call won't be any help if they were members of the foursome that was playing closest to mine. Or any of the foursomes I saw lost in the woods or wandering from fairway to fairway in search of some golf ball they could reasonably claim as their best one.

    But let's emphasize the positive here. The chief public employees out there can rest easier knowing that their lesser-paid fellows aren't wasting a whole lot of public time polishing their golf games.

    And the motives were pure even if a lot of the swings weren't. The tournament was a memorial for a firefighter who was killed while helping an accident victim, and the field was pretty well filled up with firefolk from various departments and unions.

    You had to believe that golf was not the sport of choice for a number of the entrants. Some wouldn't have spent the day on it and a lot of them certainly wouldn't have spent $100 on it.

    They were there for the cause, not the game.

    If it was a remarkable display of physics gone bad, it was also an outstanding display of heart. You can count on them, they can count on each other. It's no wonder everybody appreciates firefighters so much.

    Don't they? They certainly all say they do.

    But . . . where were they?

    Name somebody you've heard of and I'll name somebody who was somewhere else that Friday while the firefighters were digging into their own pockets to finance this tribute to someone we all should have been honoring.

    What the firefighters did is a fine thing. The tournament itself was a fine thing. It would have been a much finer thing had Rachel Kelly been bombarded with entrants from the general public and flooded with offers from that second society in Orlando, the special public.

    One would have hoped to see a few of the more well-paid public employees in the crowd, such as maybe a mayor or two and some councilpeople or commissioners, the kind of people who might have been a little more at home on a golf course.

    How about some of those celebrities and movers and shakers who'll drop big bills to hang around in tuxedoes and tennis shoes with Doc Rivers?

    Where were all the celebrities? The Isleworth money? The moist-eyed candidates who stand up every time the TV lights go on to say "We owe the firefighters a debt that can never be repaid?"

    Well, duh. Of course it can't be repaid if you don't make any payments on it. A hundred-buck tip of the hat to Shane Kelly would have been a step in the right direction.

    But of all the well-paid, expense-accounted, enriched people around here who show up for everything that benefits each other, the only name I recognized was Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary -- who wasn't there either. But at least he did send a check and a team.

    Maybe I missed some luminaries who were keeping a low profile, but it seems to me there should have been so many that they couldn't be missed.

    In a town where a $100 greens fee isn't unusual and folks will pay real money to eat lunch with a ballet dancer and will mortgage the third wife's second-best jewelry to walk on the dirt Tiger Woods touched, our highly visible and overprivileged crowd was amazingly indifferent to this fund-raiser.

    Maybe this is unfair. Maybe all the swell people in town had something to do that day and couldn't get away. Maybe the Orlando Magic had a matinee or there was something extremely private going on at one of the clubhouses inside some of the more prestigious walls.

    I guess there could have been good reasons.

    What I saw was a bunch of firefighters. What I didn't see was a bunch of you.

    What does that say about who really appreciates whom? And who's just talking?

    You can contact Jake Vest at jvest@orlandosentinel.com, or call 1-800-347-6868, Ext. 5689, and leave a message.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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