After a mass resignation, the Upper Captiva Fire Department is working to rebuild its workforce. Friday, the agency held its first board meeting since the chief and dozens of firefighters left their jobs.
There are still men and women on duty in the Upper Captiva Fire Department. Although when they’re short, they call on neighboring departments for help.
But the good news is that things are improving, and if all goes well, that trend will continue.
Going to the Upper Captiva Fire Department website, the first thing you’ll see is “We Are Hiring” plastered across the page.
Upper Captiva Fire Rescue looking to hire a fire chief. CREDIT: Upper Captiva Fire Rescue
The fire chief, along with 40 firefighters, quit in December after homeowners shot down a special tax assessment. Since the special tax assessment was shot down, 43% of the department’s budget went up in smoke.
That left the department with only six full-timers, and on Friday, board member Duncan Rosan said the numbers are better but not great.
“Our district now has 25 part-time employees that have remained on, and we have about eight to nine new hires,” Rosan said.
“There have been some shifts that we haven’t had a paramedic on,” Rosan said.
Most of the 25 firefighters who came back were among the 40 who quit in December. Rosan said they ultimately decided public safety was more important than their pay.
“Guess what the firefighters, the men, and women have come back to serve the community in the interest of public safety, so we as a board need to unify behind them as well,” Rosan said.
And the best way to do that is to find a leader that they can stand behind.
“What I’ve been noticing is that a lot of the employees are just really watching to see who that next chief is going to be and see what type of environment it’s going to be and see if it’s something that they want to be a part of or not,” Rosan said.
Rosan told WINK News he thinks Upper Captiva could select one of those candidates to be the new chief by their meeting in February.