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Longboat Key Wednesday, May. 19, 2010 7 years ago

Banyan Bay Club resident raises issue with fire marshal

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

Banyan Bay Club Vice President Dick Hershatter sent a letter to Town Manager Bruce St. Denis and the Town Commission Monday, May 17, suggesting that fire marshal Lou Gagliardi doesn’t have enough duties to keep busy and is abusing his bureaucratic power.

According to Hershatter, Gagliardi told Banyan Bay Club that the 44 units needed to be retrofitted with smoke alarms during the renovation, even though he only had permission to inspect one unit that was performing an interior renovation.

Hershatter explains in his letter that Gagliardi inspected one unit only and came to the conclusion by inspecting it that none of the units had battery operated or hard-wired smoke alarms.

Wrote Hershatter: “We have no objection to requiring unit owners to retrofit smoke alarms during the course of renovations, but we object strongly to a blanket order based on assumptions made without inspection of an individual unit and directed to the association as a whole. It would appear that the question of whether ‘a threat to fire safety or property’ exists under the statute under the circumstances described by the marshal is in this instance purely a subjective one, which seems motivated by a bureaucratic official either without sufficient duties to keep him usefully occupied or by an unjustified abuse of bureaucratic power.”

Hershatter said his association has no right to enter the other units and install or upgrade smoke alarms because the units are individual and separated by concrete fire block breaks, which, also, in his opinion, do not make the units a threat to fire safety.

At a budget workshop on May 5, Mayor George Spoll said he thinks the fire marshal, who works in the planning department and the fire department, is not a full-time position and also said there have been at least one issue raised about his job performance.

Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].

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