News Press.com

New fire station's leaders named

Coconut Point facility opens later in summer

By DENISE L. SCOTT
DSCOTT@NEWS-PRESS.COM
Published by news-press.com on June 1, 2005


Estero Fire Rescue has more to coordinate than construction as it prepares to open its newest fire station.

The district has promoted three firefighters to the rank of lieutenant to command the Coconut Point station's engine companies when it opens later this summer.

The station will be off U.S. 41 just south of Rapallo, one of many new residential developments creating that need for new fire stations.

"It's growth-related," district spokesman Jim Clarke said. "We knew we would need manpower. We hired 11 firefighters this year."

The new lieutenants for Coconut Point are firefighter/paramedic Todd Coulter, firefighter/ EMT Rob Medina and firefighter/ paramedic Grant Schwalbe.

Medina has been with the district for three years, Coulter and Schwalbe for more than two.

Firefighter/paramedic Chuck Collins, who has been with the district for more than five years, also was promoted to lieutenant. He will immediately fill a position at the County Road station vacated by Lt. Mike Davis over the winter.

Clarke said the four company officers were selected from 11 applicants. Each candidate went through an interview process, a series of written tests, review of their work history and background check.

"It's more of a command position," Clarke said. "The mental part is being tested, and the personality. It's a step in all their careers."

All four lieutenants will continue their training during the next few weeks. Coulter, Medina and Schwalbe will begin their officer duties at the Stoneybrook station off Corkscrew Road while awaiting Coconut's opening.

"I was told it could be mid- to late-June before we get electricity," Clarke said. "Then it takes us three to four weeks to bring in the equipment and set everything up."

He said trucks will begin running out of the new station on a limited basis in July.

"We'll have a ceremony late summer if everything goes according to plan," he said.

Bob Fulton is master association president for the Fountain Lakes community, across U.S. 41 from the new station.

He said residents support the new station and aren't concerned about potential noise issues.

"We think the fire department is pretty good at trying to accommodate people with sirens," he said. "We're happy Estero firefighters are going to be close by."