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Longboat Key Friday, Sep. 11, 2020 1 month ago

Longboat Key Fire Rescue begins strategic planning process

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The five-year plan will help the department improve its service, Fire Chief Paul Dezzi said.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

The Longboat Key Fire Rescue Department is in the early stages of a strategic planning process in an effort to improve its service to the community.

Fire Chief Paul Dezzi said the goal is to make it a five-year plan.

“This strategic planning is going to be our road map on how we conduct business, how we prioritize the needs of the department and the community,” Dezzi said. “And one good thing is that we want to have as many personnel within the fire department provide input into this strategic plan so that they take ownership of it.”

Dezzi has distributed a three-page survey to town stakeholders, which includes the Longboat Key Democrats, the Republican Club of Longboat Key, the Paradise Center, the Chamber of Commerce, property managers and other residents.

“We feel it’s important to get information from the public when we do a strategic plan — at least for the fire department — to make sure that we’re reaching their expectations,” Dezzi said.

Dezzi said the department will look at its dispatching, inspections and pre-planning.

“I can tell you that the COVID-19 has made us really think outside the box doing a lot of our operations, including working through the Fire Marshal’s Office,” Dezzi said.

Dezzi also said the planning allows for the department to identify its needs, like the possibility of adding a necessary piece of equipment.

“These are the things the strategic plan allows us to look at,” he said. “Then we start putting the puzzle together and looking at our priorities.”

Dezzi said the department completed its previous three-year plan in about a year and a half. For the current plan, Dezzi will hold up to 14 meetings with different fire rescue personnel, too.

In the near future, Dezzi plans to hold a Zoom session with the public to discuss the results and outcomes of the survey. He has not set a date yet for the Zoom session.

“I’d like to talk with them and give them some real results or outcomes from what the survey had and see if they had anything else that they suggest or have suggestions on,” Dezzi said.

The fire department is in the process now of building a new fire station to replace Station 92, which was torn down earlier this year. The replacement building is expected to take about a year to complete and will include separate facilities for men and women firefighters, among other upgrades. Station 91 is getting a similar facelift, though without the building demolition and rebuild.  

The department also launched a program in recent years called CARE  (Community Assistance, Resource and Education) to help frequent non-emergency callers to 911 find the medical resources they need without reaching out to first-responders. The program also helps residents reduce risks, such as trip-and-fall obstacles, in a home to avoid accidents. 

Anyone can submit the survey by email to [email protected], by fax 941-316-1946 or by dropping it off at Fire Station 91 at the 5490 Gulf of Mexico Drive. Dezzi said is hoping to receive at least 20-25 responses back.

“We have to see where the priorities are and we focus on those priorities that are the best for the community as well as the department personnel,” Dezzi said.

Mark Bergin is the Longboat Key Town Hall reporter for the Observer. He has previously worked as a senior digital producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg. Mark is a graduate of the University of Missouri and grew up in the Chicagoland area.

See All Articles by Mark

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