Isles of Capri Fire District to apply for county permit for hydrants

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

By SEAN ERNST, Staff Writer

The Isles of Capri Fire Control District plans to apply for a county permit this week to install two new fire hydrants near the village's entrance.

The installation will be the first phase in a three-year plan to place six new hydrants in various locations on Capri. The island's rapid development in recent years has made the lack of hydrants a safety concern, said Fire Chief Emilio Rodriguez. According to a district map, Capri now has 16 hydrants, most of them on or near Capri Boulevard.

Potential fires on some Capri streets currently would require firefighters to lay more than 2,000 feet of hose, Rodriguez said. Because a fire truck carries 1,200 feet of hose, the district would have to use two trucks if it was called to one of those streets.

The first two hydrants will be installed at a cost of $5,400 in the areas of San Juan and Samar avenues, Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez cited Tahiti and Dolphin circles as other areas in need of hydrants. But only Assistant Chief Alan McLaughlin, who is in charge of the hydrant project, knows the precise locations of the other hydrants, Rodriguez said. McLaughlin was out of town last week and could not be reached for comment.

"We have some areas that are very badly in need of fire hydrants," Rodriguez said. "When they built this island, they didn't put enough hydrants in. ... The island is almost built out, so it's one of our concerns. We want to be able to have hydrants so if there is a fire at the end of one of those streets, we could take care of it with one truck."

The Collier County Commission on May 27 approved a $5,400 budget amendment for the fire district to pay for the first two hydrants. The money comes from impact fee revenues. When the time comes to install the other hydrants, the district will go through the same budget amendment process with the county, Rodriguez said.

The process should not be a problem. According to the latest budget figures, the district has more than $76,000 in reserves — far more than the district has ever had, Rodriguez said. He said the district usually has around $30,000 or less in reserves.

The windfall is a result of new impact fees and increased property values. Rodriguez said he expects the total to increase even more next year, when the district starts collecting money from Twin Dolphins, a 37-unit condominium at the edge of Capri that was completed in late 2002.