1. #1
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    Default Nokomis Fire Chief Suspened

    Nokomis fire chief put on administrative leave


    Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department Chief Dave Kemerer was put on paid administrative leave May 26.

    "We received 10 or 11 letters from our firefighters just about morale in the department, nothing bad," Fire Commissioner and Board Chair Bob Markuson said, "so we have to look into it and it's just better to put the person being investigated on leave until the investigation is over."

    Markuson would not elaborate on what specific allegations were made in the letters from the firefighters.

    Kemerer has been NVFD chief for six months, Markuson said.

    "Most of our firefighters were here when Scott Lane was chief," Markuson said, "and it is hard to fill his shoes in such a short period of time."

    Kemerer did not return phone calls.


    Business decision

    Markuson, head of the seven-member board of directors, called the action taken by the board a "corporate decision involving the six-month contract we have with the chief."

    "We are reviewing his contract," Markuson said, "it's his six-month review."

    Markuson said Kemerer is the only paid member of the 36-man department.

    Under the leadership of Kemerer's predecessor, former Chief Scott Lane, the NVFD received numerous accolades as one of the best volunteer fire departments in the nation. Lane left the department last year to accept a full-time paid position as a trainer for the Englewood Fire Department.

    Lane was NVFD chief for 17 years. He was well-liked and highly respected by his own firefighters, as well as by firefighters and chiefs from professional fire departments across the state.


    'Professional' volunteers

    Fire victims have used words like "quick, efficient, gentlemen, professional, dedicated" to describe NVFD firefighters who have saved their lives and their homes.

    Many firefighters fresh out of the academy choose to go to work for the NVFD because of the department's highly rated on-the-job training. They said it gives them an opportunity to hone their skills and learn new ones while waiting for future assignments.

    Volunteer firefighters with the Nokomis fire department are highly sought and recruited by professional fire departments statewide.

    The NVFD recently received a $97,900 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Administration to be used for firefighter safety.


    You can e-mail Tommy McIntyre at: tmcintyre@venicegondolier.com.

    By Tommy McIntyre

    Staff Writer
    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.

  2. #2
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    Default Follow up

    Herald Tribune

    Fire chief placed on paid leave

    By LAUREN GLENN



    lauren.glenn@heraldtribune.com

    NOKOMIS -- In response to complaints from several volunteer firefighters, Nokomis Fire Chief Dave Kemerer was placed on administrative leave last week.

    Citing concerns about low morale among firefighters, Nokomis Fire Commissioner Bob Markuson said the seven-member Fire Commission board decided to place Kemerer on leave on May 26, until an investigation is completed.

    Reached by telephone Tuesday, Kemerer declined to comment.

    "Until I've been given the chance to address the board of fire commissioners about the reasons I was placed on leave, I will not be making any statements to the press," Kemerer said.

    The fire chief is the only paid position in the Nokomis Fire Department, which has 42 volunteer firefighters.

    The department has a $390,000 budget this year.

    Markuson would not disclose Kemerer's salary, which he said is not public record because the department is not publicly funded.

    Kemerer has been the department's chief for six months, following the resignation of former Chief Scott Lane in 2004.

    Lane left the department last year to work as a trainer for the Englewood Fire Department.

    Kemerer volunteered at the department for 12 years before being named chief, Markuson said. Before that he worked as a Sarasota County firefighter.

    When the time arrived for Kemerer's six-month review, 11 volunteer firefighters sent letters complaining of low morale in the department, said Markuson, who is chairman of the Fire Commission.

    "This is a corporate decision; there is not anything wrong," Markuson said. "It's just easier to sort things out when the gentleman is on paid administrative leave, rather than try to work around it."

    The Nokomis Fire Department is funded through $60 donations paid annually by Nokomis residents for membership to the department. Fire commissioners are elected from within the department's membership, which consists of dues-paying members.

    The department works with county emergency medical services and covers a 35-square-mile area, including Casey Key.

    The Fire Commission has 20 days until it must decide whether to keep Kemerer as chief or fire him, Markuson said.

    "I think we'll have a decision well before that 20 days is up," he said.
    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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