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Fire Board

05/09/2013 at 10:49am

Fire Board Discusses Truck and Radio Purchase

At Tuesday morning’s board workshop, Fire Chief Darren White presented board members with a proposed Capital Asset Assessment and Replacement Standard Operating Procedure, discussed the purchase of portable radios and the replacement of staff vehicles.

The meeting began with the introduction of the district’s new administrative assistant Angie Snyder. Snyder will be working with Administrative Services Manager Tammy Peacock. Snyder has worked on Fort Myers Beach before and holds a degree in education from Emporia State University, Emporia, Kansas.

Chief White presented the asset SOP that would establish a framework for capital asset management, addressing assessment, maintenance and replacement of assets valued over $5,000. Utilizing manufacturer guidelines and information from other emergency service agencies, the district would establish useful life estimates for assets for depreciation and replacement purposes. The SOP calls for, at minimum, annual inventory and assessment and regular funding of reserves for replacement.

The funding of the replacement reserves provoked discussion of how useful life of an asset is determined, how to fund the reserves and whether capital assets should be financed or covered in whole by reserves.

Chief White then provided an example of an asset replacement issue -- portable radios. Motorola has informed the district that they will no longer support their current portable radios.

"They are a 7-10 year asset and we are over 10 years now.”

Board member Carol Morris expressed concern about replacing equipment before it’s necessary.

"If I have this radio out there and I use it until it breaks. I may get 3 more years of use…I don’t think it’s a good idea economically.”

Calling on his military experience, Board member Ted Schindler weighed in.

"From a military standpoint, next to the breathing apparatus, the radio is the most important asset…standardization is very important.”

Chief White and Assistant Chief Tom May demonstrated the proposed new radios that feature improved user features such as larger controls and channel announcement for low visibility situations. They would meet the Project 25 standard, a group of standards used by federal, state and local public safety agencies to allow communication with other agencies. The board will consider the purchase of 23 portable radios at a future board meeting.

The final topic of the workshop was a discussion of a timeline for staff vehicle replacement. Of nine staff vehicles, two 2007 Ford Explorers have the highest mileage and high cumulative repair costs of $14,900 and $8,600.

The district also owns two 2007 Ford Fusions currently being used by fire prevention specialists that are not well suited to use by the district as they lack storage space. Chief White mentioned that the district might want to purchase new vehicles and pass the Explorers down to replace the Fusions.

Morris pointed out that the mileage of the Explorers was not excessive and the district should focus on preventative maintenance rather than reactionary service.

Chief White opined that the district vehicles "probably get twice as much maintenance as other vehicles.” He then reminded the board of the St. Patrick’s Day parade incident in which the Fire Chief’s Explorer died in the middle of the parade, requiring the Fire Chief and Fire Board President to push the vehicle down Estero Boulevard and off the parade route.

The next fire Board meeting will be Tuesday, May 21 at 7pm at Town Hall.

Missy Layfield