To: Judy McCoy, Chairman
      Phyllis Nesmith, Board Member
      Fred Baruth, Vice Chairman
      Diana Obermeyer, Secretary
      Conrad Coolidge, Treasurer

From: Stephen Demeter, Fire Chief

Subject: Annual Report

Date: December 3, 2015

Board members the following is a summary of this past year’s activity and our status.

Administrative: Safer grant was not awarded.

EMS:
Renewed ALS License – Good until Oct 2016.
Renewed DEA License – Good until Dec 2016
All ALS equipment is in good shape and has been tested as required.

Training: To date no one has completed the firefighter one course and obtained the mandatory 206 hours of training and passed the state exam.
We currently have 3 active first responders for EMS calls none for fire.

Apparatus: All apparatus is in good condition.

The engine just had annual service and passed pump test.

Total number of calls year to day: 46


Call break down:
34 Medical
6 Good Intent or Investigations
2 illegal burns
1 False alarm
3 Public assistance
1 vehicle fire

To: LGIFR Board                             
 
From: Chief Steve Demeter

Re: Proposed change in staffing system for 24/7 firefighter/paramedics

Date: January 24, 2015

Background
As you know, our current system provides one firefighter/paramedic on duty 24/7. A full time chief, residing on island, covers five 24-hour shifts in a week when no official business takes him off island. In a week when the chief is required to be off island for a day to conduct official business, the chief covers only four 24-hour shifts. The chief receives a salary of $47,000 with no benefits attached, and LGIFR provides the chief a rental house on the island for which LGIFR pays approximately $12,000 (including utilities).

Firefighter paramedics, who are full time employees of some other fire department, cover the two or three shifts per week that are not covered by the chief. These employees are working “part-time” for LGIFR during their days off from their regular employer. They are paid by LGIFR at an hourly rate that is considerably less than the prevailing hourly rate that they receive from their regular full time employer and from other moonlighting jobs.

Proposal
I propose that the Board adopt a new staffing system. The proposed system would staff all seven of the 24-hour shifts each week with three full-time firefighter/paramedics, one of whom would be the chief. All three would reside off-island, and would be stationed at the firehouse during the 24-hour shifts when they are on duty. The duty shifts for all three would approximate as closely as possible the duty shifts commonly used throughout the firefighter/paramedic profession in the state of Florida. Each of the three would be on duty for one 24-hour shift and off duty for the following two 24-hour shifts. In other words, each would cover seven 24-hour shifts in each 21-day period. Each of the two regular firefighter paramedics would receive an annual salary of $35,000 (this is considerably less than a firefighter/paramedic would make elsewhere) and the chief would receive an annual salary of  $47,000, reflecting his administrative and supervisory responsibilities (also less than a chief would make elsewhere).

Advantages of the Proposed Staffing System
1. The single most significant advantage of the proposed system is that all of the employees who staff our shifts would be employees whose primary obligation (and thus primary loyalty) would be to LGIFR rather than to some other employer. They will have accepted the obligation to place LGIFR’s needs above those of any other employer for whom they may “moonlight,” unlike our current part-timers who are “moonlighting” for LGIFR and must place the needs of their regular employer above those of LGIFR.

2. Under the current system, our part-time employees are available for work only when it is convenient for them—i.e., it fits with their regular work schedule and does not conflict with any priorities in their personal life. As a result, our current system results in the chief being required to cover all holidays with no available relief to share holiday duties. Under the proposed system, each employee will have accepted the obligation to cover a fair share of holidays and other times when it is less desirable to be on duty.

3. Under the current system, all employees other than the chief are employed at a relatively low wage to essentially be “on call.” It is very difficult to expect part-time employees at low compensation to assist in performing the many other duties (e.g., equipment maintenance) that are essential to the operation of a professional fire and rescue department. This significant failure of the existing system would be eliminated in the proposed system.

4. Under the current system, the likelihood of “turnover” in the pool of available part-timers is very high, leaving the chief regularly scrambling to recruit a sufficient number of willing part-timers and to familiarize them with the island. This problem is solved by the proposed system, which should result in three full-time persons fully familiar with the island and well known by (and committed to) the islanders whom they serve.

5. A shift scheduling system familiar to the general firefighter/paramedic community should produce a larger pool of candidates for LGIFR’s positions.

6. Not requiring the chief or the other two full-time employees to live on the island should increase the pool of applicants for all of those positions. I believe the Board is aware that the requirement that the chief reside on the island has not proved to be a benefit for the previous holders of the job. I believe that the ability to live off-island would greatly increase the attractiveness of the job.

7. The chief’s maintenance of his own off-island residence would save LGIFR the approximate $12,000 in rent and utilities currently being paid for the chief’s house. This savings would partially offset the additional cost of the proposed staffing system.

8. There is an intangible, but very real, advantage in the public perception of a “professional” agency reflecting commonly accepted professional staffing structures rather than unusual or “ad hoc” staffing arrangements.

9. Having dedicated full-time firefighter/paramedics will improve adherence to Dr. O’Leary’s medical protocols.  Under our current system, each of our part-time paramedics must know his/her primary employer’s protocols as well as LGIFR’s protocols. The chance of confusion and a medical error would be reduced if we have our own regular full-time staff. Training of fewer personnel would be much easier than the current task of maintaining compliance with our protocols by a large pool of part-time paramedics. And of course this would reduce potential liability for LGIFR.


Disadvantages or “Costs” of the Proposed System
1. The proposed system carries total annual compensation costs of $138,000, approximately $23,000 more than the $115,000 that I estimate it would take to continue our current staffing system. As noted above, approximately $12,000 of that additional cost would be offset by the $12,000 in annual savings from eliminating the rent on the chief’s house.

2. For the same $47,000 salary, the chief would cover fewer 24-hour shifts each week. But some of that time when the chief is not covering an on-duty shift will be invested in administrative and supervisory duties off-island and on-island. And under the proposed system, the chief will lose the benefit of a full time residence whose after-tax rental value is  $12,000 per year. This is an after-tax reduction in total compensation of more than 25%.

3. The intangible value of having the chief living on the island as part of the island community would be reduced. But I believe that loss would be more than offset by having three full-time employees who would become familiar with and familiar to the island and committed to the island community they serve.

 PROPOSAL # 2

To: Judy McCoy, Chairman
      Phyllis Nesmith, Board Member
      Fred Baruth, Vice Chairman
      Diana Obermeyer, Secretary
      Conrad Coolidge, Treasurer


From: Stephen Demeter, Fire Chief

Subject: Chief’s Report

Date: March 8, 2015

1. SAFER grant request has been submitted.
2.Hose truck is off island for PM and repair of rear seals.
3.Fire Prevention grant will open up shortly – recommend applying for smoke detectors, and electronic sign board.
4. Firefighter one course is about 80% complete.
5. Working on engine to comply with ISO inspection.
6.Received letter from Dr. O’Leary calling for 2 full time personnel to be on duty at all times.

12 calls for 2015 
10 EMS
1 Service call
1 Rescue call​

Chief's Reports 2015

To: Judy McCoy, Chairman
       Phyllis Nesmith, Board Member
       Fred Baruth, Vice Chairman
       Diana Obermeyer, Secretary
       Conrad Coolidge, Treasurer


From: Stephen Demeter, Fire Chief

Subject:  Chief’s Report

Date:  July 25, 2015

1. No word on SAFER grant.
2. All apparatus is in service.
3. The first Firefighter one course did not finish, so far no volunteer have completed requirements for Firefighter certification. We currently only have 1 active volunteer.
4. New firefighter one course started with 7, we now have 2 with one person living off island.  The course will likely be cancelled due to lack of enrollment.
5. A new firefighter has been hired to replace Don Adams who has left in order to go into full retirement.  The new firefighter is Mike Kurland, he is driving from Ft. Lauderdale. Mike is fresh out of school for both Paramedic and firefighter training.

29 calls for 2015 
25 EMS
1 Service call
1 Rescue call
1 Sprinkler head broken
1 Vegetation fire.

 PROPOSAL # 1

Little Gasparilla Island
​Fire and Rescue, Inc

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To: LGIFR Board                             
 
From: Chief Steve Demeter

Re:  Proposed addition of a firefighter/emt for each 24/7 shift (i.e., 2 persons on duty 24/7)


Date: January 24, 2015

Background
As you know, our current staffing level is one firefighter/paramedic on duty for each of the seven 24-hour shifts we must cover each week. The original design of this staffing level assumed that at least one trained volunteer first responder would be available to assist with every fire or EMS call. Since that original design was adopted, experience has shown that a system of volunteers responding when they are available, does not provide a reliable source of the second person necessary to handle every fire call or EMS call.


Proposal
I propose that the Board adopt a staffing system that adds a second professional, a firefighter/emt, to each of the seven 24-hour shifts now covered only by one professional (our core firefighter/paramedic).  Implementation of this proposed staffing system will require an approximately 50% increase in the assessment, which can be implemented only by a vote of the majority of the island property owners. ThIs, implicit in my recommendation of the staffing increase is a recommendation that the Board recommend to the islanders a 50% increase in the assessment and that the Board conduct the necessary vote of the island property owners on the Board’s recommended assessment increase.

Advantages of the Proposed Two-Person Staffing Proposal
1. Every expert we have consulted throughout our reassessment process has advised us that a response by at least two persons (one a paramedic) is considered the absolute minimum under the commonly accepted standards of the EMS profession.

2. A response by at least two persons (one a paramedic) is the absolute minimum considered adequate by similar EMS service agencies.  See, e.g., Palm Island and Upper Captiva.

3. Our own experience with a one-person response to EMS calls has confirmed the necessity of adding a second person to our EMS response team. Once the paramedic has engaged with the patient and cannot leave the patient or be distracted from the treatment effort, a second person is needed to perform a large number of essential support tasks. These essential support tasks include locating and providing the paramedic with necessary equipment and supplies, retrieving additional equipment and supplies from the EMS vehicle, maintaining radio contact with the county EMS response team arriving by boat, radioing for helicopter transport as determined by the paramedic, meeting the arriving county response team at the dock and transporting them to the patient, establishing and monitoring the helicopter landing zone when life-flight has been summoned, etc.. The list of necessary support tasks makes a corps of trained volunteers extremely important in addition to the necessary second professional.  But such a corps of volunteers cannot be relied on in place of the second professional.

4. The design of LGIFR’s planned response to any significant fire call requires at least two persons.  LGIFR’s planned response requires the immediate delivery and utilization of two pieces of equipment—the pumper truck and the hose truck. Both pieces of equipment must be driven to the scene simultaneously by two separate drivers and must be operated at the scene by at least two separate individuals. A one-person response will deliver only the pumper truck with only 1,000 gallons of water available before firefighting comes to a complete stop. And the one person delivering the pumper truck will be faced with the daunting task of dragging fire hose from the pumper to the fire by hand with no assistance. Approximately 30 minutes after the initial fire call, the county fire response team will arrive at a nearby dock and will need transport to the scene. As in EMS, the list of necessary tasks makes a corps of trained volunteers extremely important in addition to the necessary second professional. But such a corps of volunteers cannot be relied on in place of the second professional.

Disadvantages or “costs” of the Proposed Two-Person Staffing Proposal
1. The only significant operational or on-going cost of the proposal is that it will add approximately $110,000 to LGIFR’s total compensation costs requiring approximately a 50% increase in the assessment.

2. Implementing the 50% increase in the assessment will require a one-time investment of substantial administrative time and approximately $1,000 in mailing costs to conduct the necessary vote of all island property owners.

3. No additional housing costs will be added because the additional emt staff will reside off island and will stay in the fire house when on duty on the island.