Bradenton Herald

Parrish fire district to request funds
RICHARD DYMOND
Herald Staff Writer

PARRISH - Parrish Fire Control District commissioners Tuesday unanimously approved two budget requests totaling $33,610 to obtain hurricane panels and shutters for the windows and doors of the fire station and for new firefighter equipment.

"It is important for any fire department if a hurricane is moving in that firefighters be safe so they can respond to the public," said Chief Michael Johnson, speaking at Tuesday's regular monthly meeting at the firehouse, 12132 U.S. 301 N.

Johnson has been acting chief since Jan. 29, four days after longtime Parrish Fire Chief Claude "Tony" Bailey was fired.

Johnson's request for $3,610 from impact fees for the shutters was approved. He received a quote from Manatee Aluminum in Palmetto for that amount for metal panels, which close off the windows and doors and are fastened by wing nuts. Johnson said he will get two more quotes.

Once the panels are on, the doors and windows should be able to withstand 110 mph winds. Hurricane season starts in June. The garage bay doors will not be upgraded at this time, Johnson said.

The new panels will not make the fire house a county-approved hurricane evacuation location. That would take county commission approval.

Johnson's request for $30,000 out of the general fund for new helmets, gloves, coats, pants and boots for the district's 35 volunteer and four career firefighters also was approved. Most of the expense is already covered by a $30,000 Federal Emergency Management Agency grant recently awarded to the district. The district must contribute 10 percent, or $3,000.

The district unanimously awarded the equipment contract to Ten-8 Fire Equipment Inc. of Bradenton. The funds also cover some brushfire gear.

"The volunteers and firefighters are happy with it," commissioner Kevin Webb said. "The new gear is much cooler."

The fire district expects to have the new equipment within the month.

In other news:

• District commissioners want a permanent chief in place by October.

"They want to have someone on board at the beginning of the fiscal year," Johnson said.

• Commissioners voted unanimously to switch their fire house phone service from Verizon to the state phone system, formerly Sun Com. It's the same system used by the Manatee County school system.

"I estimate it may cut our monthly bill in half," Johnson said.

The district is paying roughly $200 for phone service now. The switch will take between 30 and 60 days and customers will be notified by a taped message of the new phone.