A recent near-fire at Whidden's Marina, a rising number of runs and the status of emergency care calls occupied the Boca Grande Fire Control District Board Jan. 16.
BGFD Chief C.W. Blosser said the number of 2012 runs fell just four short of the 2010 record of 437 incidents.
One - an emergency call at Whidden's Marina - prevented what could have been a disastrous fire at the historic wooden structure.
Chief C.W. Blosser
"That is a commercial for smoke detectors working," Blosser said at the meeting, plopping down charred refrigerator wiring taken from the scene. "It's all up to code. But another couple of minutes (and it's up in flames.)"
Lt. Mike D'Angelo agreed.
"Following code is the only thing that saved them," he said. "I guarantee it."
What: Boca Grande Fire Department Board meeting
When: 5 p.m. Feb. 20
Where: 360 E. Railroad Ave.
Why: fire control issues
Electricity flows as water does, D'Angelo said, and it leaked through the wiring's coating. Arcing electricity nearly touched off Whidden's Marina but smoke detectors whistled out the danger and more damage was averted.
The possible privatization of Lee County dispatch and emergency medical service could lessen quality of service to Boca Grande.
The EMS budget is $30 million with an estimated $20 million in revenues.
"They have an investment in that service already," Blosser said. "One of the others things is they come in and run it for a couple of years and when it's no longer profitable for them they say, 'Oh you can have it back.' And the equipment is run into the ground."
Blosser said details from Lee County are scarce at this point but emergency care on Gasparilla Island can't be compromised.
""There's a need for it," Blosser said. "It can't just go away. And you can't be at the mercy of Charlotte County."
Blosser said Charlotte county EMS gets so busy at times it pulls the emergency truck from standby near Gasparilla Island.
The Lee County Fire Chiefs' Association has formed a task force to study the issue and formulate talking points, Blosser said.
"We need to be able to document what has happened when privatization has happened in other places," Blosser said. "There's just too much unknown. When we get all the facts, we can start fighting it."
Air Med of Tampa is considered the leading contender to land the contract, Blosser said, although Bay flights in Sarasota and possibly one other company are also in contention.
"It's scary, because especially the people living here full time, they're getting old," said BGFD Board member Sandra Burkhart.