Newly elected fire district commissioners switch chairs

The gavel soon will pass from West Manatee Fire Rescue Commissioner Randy Cooper to fellow Commissioner David Bishop.

    By unanimous voice vote, the commission selected Bishop to chair the commission that provides oversight for the 18-square-mile district with 44,828 residents, including Anna Maria Island.

    An architect and life-long district resident who’s served on the WMFR commission since July 2011, Bishop was first appointed to replace former Commissioner John Rigney, who moved out of the district. Bishop ran unopposed in the Nov. 6 election to fill the remainder of Rigney’s term.

    Cooper and seven-year resident Larry Jennis, who is new to the commission, also ran unopposed in November.

    All three were sworn into office Dec. 20.

    It is Jennis’ first public office, and he replaces 20-year veteran Jesse Davis, who stepped down last month. Davis decided not to run for another term following heart surgery last spring.

    Jennis was unanimously voted in as the commission’s secretary/treasurer, replacing Commissioner Scott Ricci.

    Ricci moved to vice chair of the commission, also by unanimous approval of commissioners.

    In other business, upon the recommendation of Chief Andy Price, the commission unanimously approved participation in a $20,000 Commission on Fire Accreditation International study.

    Price told commissioners it will make WMFR a better fire district as it will assess such criteria as how quickly firefighters can leave the station, arrive on a scene and what level of support is sent to what types of scenes.

    It also will aid in succession planning for the expected retirement of himself and Deputy Chief Brett Pollock, he said.

    Price also updated the commission on the remodel of Station 2, 10350 Cortez Road, Bradenton, which is budgeted for $900,000-$1.25 million.

    He said the district is waiting on a lease to be signed and a drainage agreement to be struck with neighbor Manatee Fruit Company, and a status on the county approval of plans for a portable building for firefighters’ living quarters during the remodel.

    The district chose Ross Built Construction Co. of Holmes Beach and Manuel Synalovski Associates of Fort Lauderdale in May for the remodel.

    Price said while building plans have not changed, site issues remain before construction can commence.

    Price also updated the commission on the district’s International Standards Organization rating. At the November meeting, Price reported the district’s ISO rating remained at 4, following participation in the review process earlier this year.

    After further review of the rating, Price said they have decided to challenge it due to the score received in a training category. He suspected a misunderstanding or a mistake by the ISO evaluator. About 15 years ago, Price said the district challenged a rating issue and won.

    ISO rates communities from 1-10, with 1 being perfect, based on quality of fire department, water supply, hydrant locations, communication systems, building codes and inspection programs. Insurance companies use the ratings to set premiums.

    “We’re still working on it. We’re not satisfied with it. And we’re hoping we change that 4 score down to a 3.”

        The next meeting will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17, at the WMFR Administrative office, 6417 Third Ave. W., Bradenton.

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