Commissioner Mann: On the Fire Tax Assessment and It’s Threats
In public statements by the Lehigh Acres Fire Chief and its board of commissioners to discontinue local EMS service if the fire assessment fails is being taken by myself and residents and taxpayers as a threat, said Lee County Commissioner Frank Mann. It’s a threat to scare people into voting as if the takeover by the County should not be feared, said Mann
Fire Chief Wayne has quoted to say, ambulance response times might not improve if Lee County EMS takes over the service because of the way the county dispatches them.
According to Rob Farmer Lee County Public Safety Director, we have to meet the same Lee County standards that Lehigh Fire meets now. Same or better call times with the same advance life support protocols currently used.
It’s the way have been interpreting as a threat but some in the county see it as an opportunity for more stable and proven quality for the needs of the residents of Lehigh Acres, said Mann.
Currently the Fire Department keeps three ambulances available every day. But on Aug 2, 2014 for the first time in nearly four years approximately the district ran five ambulances in one 24 hours shift. According to Chief Wayne made a decision to “brown out” two engines to avoid calling in firefighters and paying overtime. The dually trained firefighters were diverted from the fire trucks to working on the ambulances all day.
Most if Lehigh Acres Fire calls are for medical needs, so “brown out” stations and or fire trucks using historical data works. The Fire Commissioners could have been doing this cost save method for the past five years and saved nearing two million dollars in reserves. In which could have gone into saving jobs.
Chief Wayne has been quoted to say; During the Lehigh Acres Fire Budget workshop on July 17, 2014 “I’m planning on laying off 46 firefighters temporary even if the tax assessment passes.” Wayne explained to the Fire Commissioners that we just do not have the money to keep them after April 1, 2015. Wayne went on to say “We have to wait until November 2015 to hire them back.”
Scott Tuttle, Deputy Director Public Safety and EMS Chief for Lee County EMS said, “We are aware of the assessment for Lehigh Fire that is going on the Nov. 4ballot. We are working to develop a plan, should that ballot measure fail. The county will work with Lehigh Acres Fire and Rescue to ensure there is continuous EMS coverage for the residence of Lehigh Acres. Lee County is responsible to ensure EMS coverage is provided throughout the county.”