Royal Harbor Updates, Mid-September

Rhonda and I have returned from our Midwest vacation and are now getting ready for a new season in Naples.
In catching up on Royal Harbor issues I see firefighters are again a hot topic. I am inserting here an email from Councilman Finlay on this issue of the SWAP program. As you can see, this “looks” like a win-win… But…wait and read on…
 
To those listed.
At the September 17 Workshop, Gary Price will offer a presentation on pension reform. The City of Naples is at the forefront of government employee pension reform in the State of Florida. The city has negotiated pensions concessions with the exception of the IAFF. . . the firefighters union. As you know, the city and IAFF are at impasse. Some of Gary’s presentation will cover the fire pension. I encourage you to watch. Below are a few highlights taken from the power point. In plain English, the fire pension is unsustainable.
1. The city’s annual contribution to the fire pension has risen 1700% from 2004 to 2013–from just over $100,000 annually to nearly $2,000,000 annually. Going forward, into the future, the projection shows an increase to $3,000,000 annually in 2018 and $7,000,000 annually in 2033.
2. City funding of the fire pension was 39% of payroll in 2011. In 2013 it climbs to 53% of payroll.
3. The average annual city pension cost per firefighter will rise to $36,900 next year.
4. The city’s unfunded, fire pension liability has risen 944% between 2002 and 2011.
5. A very recent development has taken place. The city has a limited SWAP program with EMS. SWAP is a collaboration between the NFD and EMS in which EMS paramedic/certified firefighters will ride on an NFD engine and NFD certified paramedics ride on EMS ambulances. This allows ALS response on both ambulances and an engine. There are other benefits as well, but I won’t list them here. I believe the SWAP program should be expanded because by combining of resources and cross training, it can enhance fire and medical service to the city. Furthermore, it will not cost city or county taxpayers any additional money, since the EMS/certified firefighters are available for city assignment. However, expanding SWAP has met resistance. Now we have just learned the IAFF is pulling out of the SWAP program immediately.
Doug
Yesterday we made the TV news on this issue as about half of the firefighters have withdrawn from the program.
So here is my thought process. Over the past few years Naples has not had many major fire issues. Homes are better built, the public is more savvy and fires are very rare. Firefighters now have crossed over and spend the majority of their time being first responders on medical issues. Firefighters then, it reasons, should be well versed in medical issues. Last year,  Dr. Tobin, who is the medical doctor in charge of the county paramedics, claimed firefighters did not have adequate training to use all the medical equipment and products they carried on their fire truck. He removed them. This was a big controversy. It was then determined that if we had firefighters riding with paramedics, and conversely paramedics riding with firefighters, some cross training would occur and the public would be better served.  (this was the SWAP issue) Now the firefighters want to end the swap. (the TV broadcaster said the issue was that firefighters did not earn as much riding on an ambulance as they might on a firetruck and this is the main reason)
Councilman Price was also on TV last night and he remarked that this was an embarrassment for the City of Naples.
With the department wanting to add more personnel, a fireboat, new pumps, water trucks, and on and on, I just see no end to this. Councilman Price stated on TV something similar to this… “If the people now hired on do not want to cooperate and work on these programs, maybe we need new people. “
Here is where you can support him and the council members who are also standing with him. If you are up to your eyeballs with the stand taken by the firefighters, their protests, and their uncooperative attitudes, and you agree with Councilman Gary Price, PLEASE email the council, council@naplesgov.com  This is your money and Your willingness to email will make a difference. It will take you 1 minute to add your voice.

Terry

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