1. #1
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    Default 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.
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  2. #2
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    Post A citizen speaks out!

    St. Petersburg Times...Letter to the Editor

    Chief's request for new station begs questions
    Letters to the Editor
    Published March 17, 2005
    ------------------------------
    Re: Land sought for new fire facilities, March 16 Times:


    Editor: Some observations about Chief Mike Nickerson's request for a new fire station, administration and fire training facility for the Hernando County Fire Rescue Department:

    1. In reference to the improvements/new firehouse requested by Chief Nickerson, everyone needs to remember that in 2002 the citizens of Township 22 were told the department could do it cheaper, faster and without tax increases for the same service at a lower price than provided by the city of Brooksville.

    Apparently that was not true then, and not true now, due to the request for this new firehouse.

    2. A 20-year mortgage for a new firehouse is five years longer than most commercial mortgages. Most commercial mortgages are written for 15 years because of depreciation of the structure, etc. Is the life of the structure going to be considered in obtaining funding for the facility? Or are the mortgages going to outlive the structure?

    3. The use of fire impact fees were earmarked to pay off the $600,000-plus mortgage on Fire Station 23 and now more is being pledged for Fire Station 24, the proposed administration facility and training tower. Has a study been done to estimate how much will be accumulated in impact fees to cover these mortgages? And are any cost overruns not covered by fire impact fees going to be put on the backs of taxpayers again?

    4. 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?

    5. Is anyone going to look at the automatic increase triggers in our fire fees created in 2002 with the update of the municipal services benefit unit for Fire Rescue?

    6. With the city annexations of many acres such as Majestic Oaks, Southern Plantation (and possibly Milk-A-Way Farm) has Fire Rescue taken into consideration that the growth of its services may not be necessary as the city fire department takes over these areas? Has Fire Rescue seriously looked at its capital improvement plan, taking into consideration annexations while keeping in mind that a reduction of its services is likely due to the growth of Brooksville?

    Just a few thoughts to ponder as the county commissioners review Chief Nickerson's requests for additional facilities.


    -- Anna Liisa Covell, Nobleton
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    She is right on the money with her annexation remarks... And Milk-A-way farms is in the chute to be annexed....
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    Default Re: A citizen speaks out!

    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
    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.
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    This lady is a politician (not elected) and is also a critic of the County Fire Department. However, she is right about what she says. They promise this and that and then do not do it and cry for help all the time. They mismanage so much stuff. One Lt. made over $100K last year after overtime...
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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  6. #6
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    Cool And Now This.................

    Exactly what you would expect from me, when stupid amounts of money are mentioned: How many Volunteers does the County have?
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
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    Hwoods....there are two small volunteer departments. The are fire only with EMS being either First Responders or EMT. The county does all EMS transports and charge for their service. One is funded and operates out of their own community contributions. The other is a landlocked retirment community that is self sufficient except for EMS and they charge a flat rate fee for fire protection through their homeowners association. Each of these two stations probably run 25-30 calls per month and they have mutual aid with county for fire and EMS.
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  8. #8
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    Default So...Now it begins!

    St. Petersburg Times--Hernando Edition

    Council considers new EMS company
    At tonight's meeting, Brooksville could decide whether to turn emergency medical services over to a private Colorado company.
    By DUANE BOURNE, Times Staff Writer
    Published March 21, 2005

    --------------

    BROOKSVILLE - The Brooksville City Council will consider a proposal tonight from a private ambulance company to provide emergency medical services for city residents.

    If approved, the agreement would end the city's current arrangement with Hernando County and save property owners 67 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value on their annual tax bills. The private company is asking for no money from the city.

    The preliminary proposal from American Medical Response Inc. of Colorado comes nearly two years after the county, seeking to raise the tax rate because of rising personnel and insurance costs, asked city officials whether they wanted Hernando County Fire Rescue to continue providing ambulance service in the city, or consider alternatives.

    City officials acknowledged they had considered getting into the ambulance business after the county recently raised its assessment on city residents. But citing concerns about the size and costs associated with a city-run operation, City Manager Richard Anderson said last week that the city is not inclined to provide ambulance service on its own. Contracting the service through a private company might be more efficient and cost-effective, he said.

    Under the proposal, AMR would respond to all medical and fire calls within Brooksville, though it would not replace the Brooksville Fire Department. The emergency medical service would be funded through the same fee-for-service structure the county currently uses for calls.

    During the current fiscal year, the 0.67-mill tax generated roughly $180,000 from Brooksville property owners, according to city estimates.

    AMR would operate from the Brooksville Fire Department 24 hours a day with a minimum of one unit, which would include an emergency medical technician and paramedic with firefighter certification.

    According to Hernando County Fire Rescue Chief Michael Nickerson, the fee structure is broken into two categories. Residents who call 911 needing advanced life support are charged $430. Basic life support, such as oxygen or splinting, costs $300. Added to both rates is a $7-per-mile charge.

    "The initial savings to city property owners, utilizing this option, would be significant, and the change may result in a higher level of service," Anderson wrote in a March 11 memo to the council.

    City officials first met in December with representatives from AMR, the nation's largest medical transportation company, to discuss the possibility of contracting the ambulance service. Now, officials are examining the long-range consequences of such a plan.

    AMR serves communities in 34 states, and 10 Florida counties, including Pasco, Hillsborough, Hardee and Highland counties.

    Tomas Diaz, AMR's director of operations for West Florida, said the contractual service is "a win-win for the community and for us." He also said that no patient would be refused emergency medical services if the person is uninsured or unable to pay the full cost.

    "We frequently take losses," Diaz said.

    He said AMR tries to accommodate the needs of each municipality.

    "Communities in Florida are exploring the opportunities they have in these private-public partnerships and are making the best decision for their citizens," he said.

    For 15 years, AMR has provided ambulance service to Key West. It has assisted the community by providing training and receiving grants for automated external defibrillators at no cost to the city, Key West fire Chief Billy Wardlow said.

    The working relationship has been so beneficial, Key West recently renewed the company's 10-year contract.

    "There have been no problems," Wardlow said. "They are a super company, and I am glad we have them."

    Tonight, the five-member City Council may decide whether AMR's service would be beneficial to Brooksville. The city has also been examining the possibility of a special taxing district that would charge city residents a flat rate for fire service. That proposal and AMR's are considered ways for the city to bolster revenue and shift the financial burden of services from the taxpayers.

    Council members could choose to proceed with AMR's proposal, wait another fiscal year or continue to explore other options.

    If the council chooses to go forward with the plan, Anderson said the council must enact the three- to five-year contract before Oct. 1, the beginning of the 2005-06 fiscal year.

    --Duane Bourne can be reached at 352 754-6114 or dbourne@sptimes.com

    [Last modified March 21, 2005, 01:50:19]
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  9. #9
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    Brooksville will discuss hiring private EMS company
    By Times Staff Writer
    Published March 24, 2005

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    BROOKSVILLE - Brooksville officials tonight will explore the possibility of hiring a private company to provide emergency medical services to city residents.

    In a special meeting, representatives from American Medical Response and Hernando County Fire Rescue, the city's current ambulance provider, will discuss the long-term benefits and levels of services that each provides, essentially negotiating for the right to provide the service. On Monday night, the City Council delayed approval of the company's proposal after council members said they were concerned about having to make a quick decision and raised several questions about the cost and the level of service. Officials have until the end of April to sign a contract and alert the county about a change in service, which would take effect Oct. 1. The Colorado-based company says it could provide emergency medical services at no cost to city taxpayers by utilizing the same fee-for-service structure the county uses for ambulances services in Brooksville. The proposal could save property owners 67 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value and would not replace the Brooksville Fire Department. The workshop will begin at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers, 201 Howell Ave.

    [Last modified March 24, 2005, 01:20:20]
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  10. #10
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    At this meeting city council members as well as several city firefighters a handfull of city residents and the administrtative staff of the county fire department listened intently as AMR laid out their proposal. City Council members asked questions and received answers.

    The County Fire Chief gave a rebuttal and was rendered speachless by remarks from the Mayor at one point. When pointing out to council that this would result in a loss of revenue for the County Fire Department and a possibly scaling back service, the mayor said, "A loss of revenue similar to what happened to us when you took over Township 22 and we had to cut service?"
    (Township 22 Thread)This was met with laughter from the crowd and a few "Exactly right" from people. The fire Chief flatly said that the County would deny the certificate of need and fight us. He also said they may be willing to reduce the .67/100 milage tax rate on the MSTU for the city.

    Another workshop was scheduled and the City will apply for the certificate of need this week.

    A new law that is effective July 1 will prohibit the County from stopping the city. So, if they want to do it, and the county is succesful in stopping it this year, they will have no say so after July 1. Matter of time
    Last edited by captstanm1; 03-25-2005 at 12:36 PM.
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  11. #11
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    St. Petersburg Times...Hernando Edition

    Fire chief to city: Retain EMS services
    Outsourcing the services might save Brooksville money, but ending the use of Hernando Fire Rescue could hurt city-county relations.
    By DUANE BOURNE, Times Staff Writer
    Published March 26, 2005

    ---------------------------

    BROOKSVILLE - Warning of possible cutbacks, Hernando County Fire Rescue Chief Michael Nickerson made an impassioned plea to Brooksville City Council members Thursday to continue the current agreement providing emergency medical services to city residents.

    In arguing for the status quo, Nickerson questioned whether a private company could duplicate the level of service provided to city residents without additional costs.

    For the first time, Nickerson outlined the financial implications if the city dropped the county's service. He said the Hernando County Fire Rescue would face substantial cutbacks in its operation and would consider raising the emergency medical services assessments in order to offset the loss of $180,000 generated by city residents.

    That added a new wrinkle in the council's decision whether to retain the county's services or contract with American Medical Response Inc.

    Funded by the same fee-for-service structure the county currently uses in Brooksville, American Medical could save property owners 67 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, according to its proposal.

    This year, the 0.67-mill tax that city residents pay the county for emergency medical services - on top of the service fees - generated an estimated $180,000, records show.

    Nickerson said the county will submit a counterproposal. But if council members continue the current arrangement, the city would not have a chance to save city taxpayers money, a goal of council members. If they don't, the financial fallout the Hernando County Fire Rescue would incur could worsen relations between Brooksville and the county. Brooksville officials are still sore about a 2003 court decision that gave Hernando County the right to provide fire services to an area that surrounds the city's limits, called Township 22.

    During a 90-minute special meeting Thursday night, council members asked questions about American Medical's role in the city, level of service, training, protocol and, most importantly, cost.

    Tomas Diaz, the company's director of operations for West Florida, told council members that the operation would be self-sustaining at its current rate structure. Diaz explained that the county and the company have similar fees for ambulance transportation and would need no cash outlay.

    Diaz, however, could not say for sure whether costs may rise if there is a demand for additional units above the one unit the company proposed. Even so, the City Council must approve the changes in the rates.

    Nickerson tried to pick apart the company's pitch, saying trends of private enterprise and the insurance industry indicate that costs will increase. He added that Hernando County does not have a good history with private ambulance companies.

    In the past two decades, the county, as well as Brooksville, contracted their ambulance services with five companies. In each case, Nickerson explained, the private company either went bankrupt or went out of business.

    Mayor Joe Johnston III and council member Frankie Burnett pointed out that the 0.67-mill tax city residents are assessed for county ambulance service outweighs the service the city receives, and that the city was never given the opportunity to negotiate the rate structure. Nickerson asked that city officials work with the county for options to adjust the tax rate. Brooksville medical calls make up 17 percent of those handled by Hernando County Fire Rescue.

    Without offering a firm guarantee, Nickerson said long-range projections show that the county will not raise the 0.67-mills in the next few years.

    "We are trying not to draw a line in the sand," Nickerson said.

    Hernando County Fire Rescue thrust itself into the debate over privatizing the city's emergency medical services on Monday night, when Nickerson asked that the county be given a chance to bargain.

    The City Council has until the end of April to sign a contract with the company and to alert the county about a change in service, which would take effect in time for the 2005-06 fiscal year. Faced with a narrow time frame, council members on Monday night decided to obtain a certificate of public convenience from Hernando County to begin the process of privatizing the service. But some council members worried that they had too little information to make a decision. They looked to Thursday night's information session with Hernando County Fire Rescue and American Medical to figure out which ambulance provider would best suit the needs of the city's roughly 7,300 residents.

    By the end of the meeting, it was clear that both the company and the county wanted to serve Brooksville's residents, but the county might be the gatekeeper of whether Brooksville contracts its ambulance service with the Colorado company.

    As city officials prepare a preliminary contract, the county could still deny the city's application for a certificate of public convenience, ending the debate.

    Last year, county officials rejected a similar certificate request from American Medical, Nickerson told council members.

    The City Council must also hold two public meetings on the issue before it approves the contract. Brooksville residents have yet to voice their opinions in a public forum. Last year, residents were deeply divided over a proposal for Brooksville to contract its fire services with Hernando County.

    Anderson said the city will await the Hernando County counterproposal while continuing the certification process.

    If the county does not present a competitive offer, council members will consider preliminary approval of the city's proposal April 4.

    Duane Bourne can be reached at 352 754-6114 or dbourne@sptimes.com
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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  12. #12
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    County Union offficials have visisted the fire station in Brooksville and told firefighters if the contract is approved they will file a complaint with the IAFF against Spring Hill firefighters (IAFF) who work part time for this small city fire department as reserve firefighters. The city has only 16 firefighters including the Chief and one station. The City is not union.

    They have threatened other members of their own department who work part time with the city with "accidents" happening to equipment they are responsible for. One of these members recently quit the city department as a reserve because after checking his unit, and preparing to leave the station he found a door unlatched that would have swung open as they pulled out. He is confident that it was latched prior to him getting in the unit...

    The city firefighters have discussed union before but can not get enough members to participater. Of the 15 line firefighters 6 are officers and of them 2 will retire in less than 2 years and of the remaining 9, 4 of them are still on probation.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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  13. #13
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    St Petersburg Times Editorial

    Cost only part of ambulance choice
    A Times Editorial
    Published March 27, 2005

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Saving money has been the early focus of Brooksville council members as they consider hiring a private company to provide ambulance service to city residents.

    Cost should be a factor, but it must be weighed against the prevailing issues of accountability and level of service. And on those points, early indications are that the city's current provider, Hernando County Fire Rescue, can do a better job.

    The city now pays Hernando County to provide emergency medical services. The revenue for that payment comes from a combination of sources.

    The city assesses property owners 67 cents of every $1,000 of taxable property value. That generated about $180,000 in the last fiscal year.

    Residents who use the ambulance service also pay fees that range from $430 for each trip that requires advanced life support, and $300 for basic life support. In addition, the county receives $7 per mile for each ambulance call.

    The company that wants to take over that business for the city is American Medical Response Inc. It would not charge the city government for its services, so the current 0.67-mill assessment on property owners would be eliminated. However, AMR would charge residents, reportedly at the same rate as Hernando County Fire Rescue.

    AMR has told the city that it can cover the city, including fire calls, with a minimum of one ambulance, one emergency medical technician and one paramedic stationed in the Brooksville Fire Department.

    By contrast, Hernando County Fire Rescue chief Mike Nickerson says the current arrangement puts 15 of the county's ambulance units in the immediate Brooksville area.

    In a city that is growing as fast as Brooksville - the population may double to 14,000 in the next 10 years - it would seem the county's depth of coverage will be sorely needed. More ambulances and more rescuers should ensure adequate coverage in the event of simultaneous emergency calls, as well as shorter response times.

    That said, and acknowledging that saving money is a compelling factor, perhaps the best argument for the city continuing to use the county's emergency services is accountability. If the council opts for a private company, taxpayers will be removed one more step from the government that is obligated to provide this fundamental public safety service.

    There are some instances when it makes sense to use the private sector for jobs that once were provided by government workers, such as collecting garbage or paving roads. But the delivery of emergency services, just like police services, is a far too critical function to be hired out to the lowest, for-profit bidder.

    As long as government workers provide these services, the taxpayers they serve are ultimately in charge. If residents don't like the service that is being delivered, or the price they are paying for that service, they can go to the City Council and demand changes. If the council doesn't respond, residents have access to the city's and county's public records and ultimately can vote their elected representatives out of office.

    But if residents are upset about the fees or services being delivered by a private company, they have little recourse other than to complain. In most cases, though, the council's hands would be tied because of their long-term contract with the private firm. Change becomes a frustratingly slow process. In the meantime, residents suffer unless there are provisions in the contract for timely intervention.

    The Hernando County Commission hired a private company to provide ambulance service in 1991, but switched back in 1999. One reason the county dropped the company, Florida Regional EMS, was that residents no longer had access to the personnel records of the ambulance workers in whose hands they literally placed their lives, and only limited access to information about spending decisions that had a direct impact on the quality of service. Those who were not satisfied with Florida Regional had no recourse other than to complain to the commissioners, who could take action only if they could prove the company had violated its contract.

    Brooksville Council members also should keep in mind that private companies are more susceptible than government to the pressures of the marketplace. If a company falls on hard times, it could have a direct impact on Brooksville residents. The company might look to increase its fees, or skimp on service, equipment or personnel. That possibility is lessened with Hernando County Fire Rescue because its financial and personnel records are open to the public.

    The debate about making the switch is healthy in that it forces the city to re-evaluate the services it now receives, and possibly secure a better deal from the county. But if the Brooksville Council thoroughly examines the costs of a public-private agreement, and the expense is reasonably comparable, the city should stay with the county. Even if it costs a bit more, the added accountability justifies it.
    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.

  14. #14
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    The writer fails to mention that in addition to being a "Brooksville Citizen" he is a paramedic with Hernando County Fire Department and Vice President of their LOCAL IAFF Chapter.
    ______________________

    Don't change ambulance for Brooksville
    Letters to the Editor
    Published March 30, 2005

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Re: Brooksville City Council switching to private ambulance service:


    I write in opposition of the city of Brooksville trying to contract out emergency medical services. I speak as a resident who works and drives through the city's emergency response area and would be directly affected should I need emergency services.

    I am against this for several reasons. While the city might be encouraged to do so with the most weight being on taxes, I cannot believe that a for-profit company, such as American Medical Response Inc., would have the same level of care or the same dedication as emergency workers who live within this county and city have toward our neighbors.

    When I say it would not be able to provide the same level of care, I say that with regard to Hernando County Fire Rescue. It follows one of the most aggressive protocols in the state. It is constantly exploring new and better ways to treat the citizens in the city in their times of crisis. According to the city manager's letter, American Medical Response has proposed to provide one equipped advanced life support unit at the central fire station, with one emergency medical technician and one paramedic who are cross-trained as private-sector firefighters.

    How does one unit compare to what the county currently provides to city residents? It currently has one ALS ambulance with a paramedic and EMT firefighter, and an ALS engine with a paramedic and EMT firefighter as a backup within the city at all times. This, right off the bat, is two paramedics and two EMTs, doubling what American Medical Response is offering. In addition, during business hours it has two more quick-response ALS vehicles with administration in the office, making it four paramedics within the city limits.

    Also, the current mutual aid to the city provides two rescue trucks with four firefighters to every fire call in the city, at no cost to the city. That's two more firefighters than American Medical Response is proposing.

    A major issue is the standard of care, and it is a big one. Why does the city want two different standards of care being provided within the city should mutual aid be needed? The city would then need to redo a mutual aid agreement with the county in case more than one ambulance is needed at a time.

    There is no way it is proposing a higher level or standard of care, per City Manager Richard Anderson's letter.

    Approximately six months ago, the City Council sent a letter to the county commissioners indicating it was pleased with the current service and did not wish American Medical Response to come in then. Why the sudden change?

    While there may not be a tax involved in this service, the itemized bill that American Medical Response has historically sent to its patients includes a "base fee" and then adds additional costs, such as each medication, sheets, gloves, supplies and mileage. Why didn't the city manager tell the council and residents this?

    Can we expect a for-profit company to do all this without eventually raising rates so it can see a profit in Brooksville? Will we residents pay more than we do now?

    The Hernando County Professional Firefighters have been serving the city and its residents with exceptional service and professionalism for five years. Why change? Are a few dollars saved up front worth the chance we could pay the price later? Just how much is health and life worth when an emergency occurs?

    City officials should give careful consideration to this matter. As Mr. Anderson states in his letter to the council, "there may not be the opportunity to re-establish service with the county system." Let's not take the chance for less.


    -- John Crowley, Brooksville
    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.

  15. #15
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    Post One Step closer

    Medical services schism closer
    Brooksville continues the process of ending its arrangement with the county to go with a private ambulance firm.
    By DUANE BOURNE, Times Staff Writer
    Published April 6, 2005

    ----------------------------


    BROOKSVILLE - The Brooksville City Council on Monday moved closer to providing emergency medical services to city residents, agreeing to withdraw from Hernando County's municipal service taxing unit and beginning contract negotiations with a private company.

    With Monday's preliminary move, council members will hold an April 18 public hearing to help decide whether to hire American Medical Response Inc., the company that plans to use the same fee-for-service structure Hernando County currently uses to provide ambulance service to city residents.

    The company's proposal could save city taxpayers 0.67 mills per $1,000 assessed property value.

    Records show the tax generated an estimated $180,000 from city residents last year. The county could lose all of that revenue if Brooksville signs a contract with the Colorado company.

    "The idea is to improve service and decrease cost," City Manager Richard Anderson said on Tuesday.

    By the time of the hearing, council members should know whether the county has approved the city's application for a certificate for public convenience. At the hearing, officials will review the draft contract and formally decide on ending the city's current arrangement with the county.

    Anderson said all three facets must be in place if the city intends to privatize its ambulance service and notify Hernando County of the change by the end of the month.

    Last year, county officials rejected a similar certificate request from American Medical Response. But if they decide the current application does not demonstrate sufficient need for private ambulance service in Brooksville, that would end contract negotiations and the city's plan to implement the change for the next fiscal year.

    While county officials contend that a private company cannot ensure better service without additional costs, they have not yet submitted a counterproposal. Anderson explained that once the city receives the draft contract from American Medical Response, county officials will have a chance to review details of the 3- to 5-year agreement and offer a competitive offer.

    Duane Bourne can be reached at 352 754-6114 or dbourne@sptimes.com

    [Last modified April 6, 2005, 01:06:15]
    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.

  16. #16
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    The City Fire Department is a small department of 15 full time firefighters and a fire chief. There are about 10 reserve firefighters who are full time firefighters. Some of them are employed by Spring Hill Fire and Rescue which is an IAFF Department.

    The City is not an IAFF department despite several attempts to unionize. There is not enough support among the members as most of the older ones are about to retire, but they represent about 60% of the Department. There are 5 personnel per shift and the reserves fill in as they can and are part of the pension plan.

    The County IAFF notified Spring Hill today that they will file an complaint with the IAFF about these reserve firefighters.

    If the deal goes through AMR will be contract employees to the city and the County Fire Department is opposed to thismeasure saying that the reserves are supporting privatization.....

    However.........The County Fire Department has union members who volunteer in other jurisdictions, work for AMR in other counties as well as for SUNSTAR EMS in Pinellas County.....

    The battle lines appear to have been drawn....
    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.

  17. #17
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    Thumbs down 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 dbourne@sptimes.com

    [Last modified April 20, 2005, 02:56:36]
    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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