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11/21/2012 at 12:46am

Firefighters HoneredFirefighters Honored; Commissioners Spar

Photo Caption: Walter & Betty McCollum are shown surrounded by the firefighters who saved Walter’s life in June 2012 after a cardiac arrest. From left FF Andres Vila, FF William Edge, FF Drew Herron, FF Peter Marrero, Lt Cheryl Bauchert and Lt Joel Guzman.

FMB Firefighter EMT William Edge and FF Paramedic Andres Vila were honored at Tuesday night’s meeting of the Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District Board of Commissioners by a grateful recipient of their EMS services in June 2012. Walter and Betty McCollom attended the meeting to present certificates to Edge, Vila and Iona-McGregor Firefighters Lt Paramedic Cheryl Bauchert, Lt Paramedic Joel Guzman, FF EMT Drew Herron and FF EMT Peter Marrero.

McCollom thanked each one individually and then addressed remarks to the Commissioners, lauding them on the excellent training the firefighters had received.

"I spent about 40 years in the air traffic control business…I know how a mundane shift can turn in a matter of seconds. I also know that trained technicians that have to deal with emergencies have to have good training and a good foundation in their profession. I know that when the chips are down they rely on that training. When it comes to training and the budget, it’s the training that’s really essential. The better the training, the better the outcome is going to be. I know because I was the recipient of that training….if it wasn’t for the quick and professional response of these firefighters, I wouldn’t be here tonight.”

Most of the remainder of the meeting was consumed by continued sparring over the Fire Chief contract process and a recent public records request.

Commissioners Carol Morris and Ted Schindler expressed continued concern over the Board’s October approval of Chief Darren White’s contract claiming that proper procedure was not followed in the selection process. They both state that they have no concern about Darren White filling the Chief position, but do have concerns about the process.

Morris explained that the Board passed bylaws and a job description that she felt were ignored during the Chief’s contract process. She indicated that White does not have an undergrad degree and the years of supervision that are called for in the job description. The contract allows White 4 years to meet the qualifications.

Schindler addressed the Board about a recent public records request and a complaint that was filed with the sheriff’s office regarding a violation of the sunshine law.

Morris outlined the request she received that came from Joe LaCroix, District IT Administrator and included a request for any emails sent or received discussing District business as well as personal cell phone calls regarding District business.

"That request should have never been sent to me. It borders on intimidation. It obviously shows what Joe LaCroix does with his time…I don’t know why Mr. LaCroix is so paranoid.”

Schindler shared Morris’ ire. "When I got a copy of the police report that said Mr. La Croix had signed a sworn statement that he wants to prosecute…I didn’t sign up for this crap. I signed on to help this community.”

The Board agreed to put a discussion of the Sunshine Law on a future workshop agenda.

During the Union report, Troy Mesick outlined firefighters’ participation in the Spirit of the Holidays program on the Beach and explained that they are collecting toys for both the local Spirit of the Holidays and Toys for Tots, a national program.

The next Fire Board Workshop will be December 4th at 10am. The next Board meeting will be December 18th at 7pm. Both meetings are held at Town Hall.

Missy Layfield