Lehigh Acres firefighters celebrate fire assessment approval

Author: Andrew Scheinthal
Published: Updated:

LEHIGH ACRES, Fla.- Firefighters in Lehigh Acres have a reason to celebrate Wednesday; the department is the first fire and EMT service in the state to pass a fire assessment by popular vote.

392 votes made all the difference in this very heated election. For months the firefighters have been waiting to learn their fate and Tuesday night, they got their answer.

“Our spirits were lifted, we’re pretty happy about it,” said firefighter David Montero.

Montero has been working at the fire department for three years.

“I would have been one of the many, 54 I think, that would have been let go,” said Montero.

That’s half of Chief John Wayne’s fire crew that would have been out of job, without the chance to be rehired in about a year’s time.

As a result of the approval of the fire assessment, that’s no longer the case.

The chief will have to temporarily lay off 46 firefighters by April 1st, 2015 and by January 2016, he will be able to start hiring them back. Something that would not have been an option had the fire assessment not passed.

“It’s probably going to take us until after the end of the year to sort this all out, to be able to come to some really hard numbers,” said Chief Wayne.

The chief says the fee will go in place next year and is expected to bring in $12 to 13 million dollars.

“Words can’t express how important that was to the community and we’re very excited that it went in our favor.”

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