FLorida FD want new station
Here is an article that is burried in the States News on FH.com. What it does not tell you is this... The reason they are in that old office building since 2002 is this. In october 2002, the County Fire Department took away response area from the City of Brooksville Fire Department. This did this to get more tax money coming in. But they had no station that could cover the area adequately so they had to find a "temporary" shelter. That County Station is 1/8 mile from the City station. That county station also does the EMS Transport for the city for a year fee and they also bill for service, which reportedly generates over 2 million/year in revenue. Thier underlying plan was to take over the city fire department and have a firehouse already there. They had already been promising a new fire station in another area of the county for several years and it just opened this year. They could not afford to build both and knew better than to put one in the city before the other area. But thier efforts to take over the City Fire Department failed because the City vowed to keep it up and running. Therefore there was no place to house the pumper and ambulance which both sit outside.
As recently as this week that County station in the city responded to a working fire on a street that is less than a mile away from thier station and closer to the city station by a short bit. Their next closest engines came from 6 and 8 miles away. The city advised County dispatch of a working fire just as the call was dispatched because it was visible from their station and of the availability of an engine. The first county unit (from the city station) took 6 minutes according the the paper to arrive. They never called for a city unit. Thier excuse is this....We have conventional mutual aid, and can not call until a 2nd alarm. I guess the officers are not allowed to think!
There is much more to come from this situation in the upcoming weeks. It should be interesting to say the least.
St. Petersburg Times
Land sought for new fire facilities
WILL VAN SANT
Commissioners ask staffers to find acreage for buildings to house a training center, administrative offices and a new Fire Station 24.
BROOKSVILLE - Hernando County Fire Rescue Lt. Tony Noble is blunt when it comes to Fire Station 24.
"It's a dump," said Noble, who leads the firefighters union. "The guys are tired of living in those conditions."
The few sunless rooms with stained drop ceilings on Benton Avenue across from Brooksville Regional Hospital's emergency room were once a doctor's office. When those rooms became Fire Station 24 in 2001, it was supposed to be temporary.
Yet workers at the four-person station have continued to pull 24-hour shifts in quarters that county government officials acknowledge are completely inadequate.
Tuesday, the County Commission asked its staff to identify 6 acres of land somewhere south of downtown Brooksville for two new buildings. One would be a training tower/burn simulator; the other would house new administrative offices for the district and a new Fire Station 24.
The total cost of the project is estimated to be between $1.7-million and $2.2-million.
Although limited renovations and construction of a metal shed to house emergency vehicles are under way at Fire Station 24, Lt. Marcus Zopf cautioned that whatever is done can never turn the space into a proper workplace.
As he took a break from lunch to show a reporter around Tuesday, Zopf, a nine-year veteran of the department, said he and his colleagues had been frustrated that so little action had been taken to remedy their situation. But with the commission's decision, he said, the mood had improved.
"Morale is coming up a bit because something is happening," Zopf said. "That was the biggest thing today, just to get the ball rolling."
The proposal, brought forward by fire rescue district Chief Mike Nickerson, was greeted with skepticism by some commissioners. Board Chairman Robert Schenck was unsure early in the discussion whether he could support the plan, saying the district's budget was too strained to absorb such a costly project.
County Administrator Gary Adams stressed to the commissioners that they were not being asked to approve any expenditures or to build anything, but only to explore what options are available.
Schenck, who did not dispute that some district facilities like Fire Station 24 are inadequate, eventually joined the rest of the board and agreed to let Adams proceed.
Schenck did so warily, however, and only after making it clear that he advocated a frugal approach to managing public money.
"Just to put numbers on a piece of paper and say go for it is not good stewardship," he said to his fellow board members.
Preliminary ideas call for the training tower/burn simulator to go on 3 of the yet to be chosen 6 acres. The structure is expected to cost $350,000. On the rest of the land would sit the new Fire Station 24 and the district's administrative offices, which would replace the current offices on S Broad Street in Brooksville.
The second structure is estimated to cost between $1.3-million and $1.8-million, depending on the construction method used.
The district would obtain a loan to pay for the bulk of the project and assume 20 years worth of debt payments. It's projected that impact fees that developers pay to the district on new construction will cover a significant portion of that debt annually.
Commissioners Nancy Robinson, Chris Kingsley and Diane Rowden all pointed out how critical adequate fire service facilities are to public safety and expressed less skepticism about moving forward than had Schenck and board member Jeff Stabins.
Adams said he could not say when he would again report to the board on the project, but that the matter had been ignored for too long and it was time to give it some attention.
Firefighter and union chief Noble was pleased.
"It's a lot more progress than we have had," he said after the meeting.
Re: A citizen speaks out!
Why not get a grant to pay for training, that way everyone pays for it. Most private businesses that I know of pay for training if it is mandatory for the job.
Originally posted by captstanm1
Fully understanding the labor, worker's compensation, etc. being paid to on-duty firefighters for training going out of county, a simple question begs to be asked: Why are the taxpayers paying for educational requirements that should be paid for by the firefighters? Private businesses require their employees to be educated in their respective professions, or this would be part of a perk package upon hiring the individual. Is Fire Rescue going to tack on another fee to our fire fees to pay for firefighter education, as the Building Department does with permits for the continuing education of inspectors? -- Anna Liisa Covell, Nobleton
And Now This.................
Exactly what you would expect from me, when stupid amounts of money are mentioned: How many Volunteers does the County have?
No change in EMS or Fire Structure
NOTE: This plan became for a change in EMS service became doomed when AMR decided that instead of no cost to the city, it would have to charge a subsidy. This subsidy was due to their inability to gain permission to do interfacility transports outside the city which is where they make the money. Additionally, the county would not authorize a "certificate of need" required by law in Florida. The fire district plan may still go after some tweaking. The problem with this plan was that it was born one day and then there was a rush to put it in place in less than a year.
St. Petersburg Times
Brooksville backs away from fire, EMS plans
City Council members want more time to assess the impact of new fees on residents
By DUANE BOURNE, Times Staff Writer
Published April 20, 2005
BROOKSVILLE - The Brooksville City Council backed away from two separate measures that would have changed the way fire protection and emergency medical services are handled in the city.
In two surprising moves on Monday night, council members voted unanimously to table the discussion about establishing assessments fees for fire protection until further analysis is done to study the impact of new housing development.
The city also withdrew its application with Hernando County for a certificate of public convenience, ending negotiations with a private company that wanted to provide ambulance service to the city at no additional cost to residents.
"I think it is our job to realistically look at every option to save the taxpayer money," said Vice Mayor David Pugh Jr., speaking of the city's plan to contract its emergency medical services with a private company. "On the surface it looked like a good idea for the citizens, but one of the main concerns was level of service."
After meeting with County Administrator Gary Adams last week, City Manager Richard Anderson said the county has made several concessions that would allow the city to retain the current relationship with the county to provide ambulance transportation.
Because the Brooksville Fire Department and Hernando County Fire Rescue has the same medical director, the county will now absorb the cost of paying for that position. City firefighters and paramedics will also be allowed to participate in certification training with the county.
According to a memo obtained from city officials, both fire departments will arrange quarterly meetings and the county will assign an additional ambulance to the city when one of its units is handling other calls. Anderson told council members that Hernando County has no immediate plans to increase the fees Brooksville residents pay to the county for emergency medical service.
Meanwhile, officials discontinued negotiations with American Medical Response, the private ambulance company that wanted to provide EMS by Oct. 1.
The company had proposed the same kind of fee-for-service structure the county currently uses in Brooksville. But the company said it could save property owners 67 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. During Servicesthe current fiscal year, the 0.67-mill tax generated roughly $180,000.
City officials had sought a certificate of public convenience to begin privatization. They learned that the county would not extend its May 1 deadline for obtaining the certificate and notifying the county of the change in service.
That worried Johnston, who told his colleagues Monday night that he felt the city was rushing into a decision without completely analyzing the impact to city residents.
In the end, council members opted for caution, saying they would delay a decision to privatize its ambulance service while they continue to examine the issue.
That move was in line with the council's decision not to implement a rate structure for fire protection until next spring or winter when it will have a better idea on how new housing development would affect the service.
Brooksville had considered implementing a rate structure for fire protection well before it established the Brooksville Fire District in November.
City residents currently pay for fire service through property taxes, which means that homeowners with large or high value properties paid more compared to those properties with little or no taxable value.
By implementing the rate structure, which is similar to the county's, board members said they could charge for the service based on demand rather than property value. Johnston said that would ensure that all residents were paying something toward the city-run operation.
After months of crunching the numbers to offset the $1.6-million fire department budget, officials determined that residents would pay $203 for residential service, according to figures released on Monday. Property owners would also see a tax cut during the first year of municipal service taxing unit.
While Anderson anticipated a 3-mill tax reduction, Johnston and Pugh pointed out that, if they agreed on any one of several rate options, the city would be asking people on fixed or low incomes to fork over more money for the service than they had been paying before.
"Is that realistic?" Pugh asked Tuesday. "It is unfortunate to have something placed on low income citizens who cannot pay. In the scheme of things, is that fair?"
Anderson explained that the $203 was high because Brooksville has too few parcels, 3,552 units, to offset the cost of the service. Developments such Cascades, Majestic Oaks and Southern Hills Plantation would serve to lower the fees, but board members acknowledged that they were not sure how soon the new subdivisions would affect fire service.
Duane Bourne can be reached at 352 754-6114 or firstname.lastname@example.org
[Last modified April 20, 2005, 02:56:36]