Although call volume declines with the end of season, summer time is no vacation at the Marco Island Fire Rescue Department. Off-season is training time for all fire rescue personnel.
Chris Byrne, Deputy Chief, tells us that every summer the department trains in a variety of ways.
Much of the training is to comply with annual training requirements, for rescue divers to keep up to date on their state certifications, to satisfy EMT and paramedic medical training hours, and to keep compliant with all updates to county medical protocols.
“Things are always changing,” Deputy Chief Byrne explains, noting that as advancements in emergency medical procedures are made, the protocols change. Typically, Collier County releases a medical protocol update every two years, with additional updates as needed. The summer training plays a key role keeping the departmentcurrent.
One notable training practice summer brings is done in order to satisfy the department’s high rise training requirement. Each year, many condominium managers on the island offer their buildings to train Marco Island firefighters. This year, the South Seas Condominiums were the site of the multi-day training. As residents watched, firefighters entered the building in full gear, deployed their hoses down the hallways and exercised their fire plan.
The Marco Island Fire Rescue Department and Marco Island Police Department are working together on emergency management, including water rescues. This summer the marine officers and the fire rescue department’s rescue swimmers and divers are training together. The importance of this collaboration is critical in our island community.
For the department’s rescue divers, re-certification training is done during the summer months, along with their annual swim competency test. All other firefightersmust train for and pass an annual surface swim competency test.
Training the operators and crew on the 1 ½ year old fire rescue boat has been extremely successful. Deputy Chief Byrne tells us that the rescue team has “fully met our expectations of capability and competency.”
Training takes place off the island as well. For three days this summer, Marco Island Fire Rescue participated in a countywide training exercise at the iconic St. George and the Dragon restaurant in Naples. The search and rescue training exercise was conducted with fire crews from all over Collier County, and all county fire rescue departments participated together.
Currently, Division Chief Scott Schultz heads the training program. After thirty-four years of service, he is retiring this summer. The department is working on a succession plan for the training program, with Division Chief Dave Batiato stepping into the role.