Bill proposes merging Fort Myers Beach and Bonita Springs fire departments

Reporter: Jolena Esperto Writer: Rachel Murphy
Published: Updated:

A bill has been proposed that might merge the Fort Myers Beach and Bonita Springs Fire Districts.

State Representative Adam Botana proposed the bill. WINK News spoke with both fire chiefs Monday and they were surprised.

Under Botana’s plan, no layoffs or fire stations will close. The two chiefs said there are no overlaps on response times as is.

“During a voluntary merger, you should do these as you shall do these things, which is a study of the plan, have a layout of how it’s to be implemented. And a third thing, a referendum vote. The negative 10 reps bill is doesn’t have those things in it. I think if it had those things in it, leave it up to the voters,” said Greg Dewitt, fire chief of Bonita Springs.

“That happens through a feasibility study. If it’s feasible, then a merger plan is created. That plan talks about contracts and pensions and operations and administration and everything else. Then finally, it’s supposed to be put to the voters to make the final decision. None of that exists in either one of these bills. So for those reasons, we have to stand in opposition of it,” said Scott Wirth, fire chief of Fort Myers Beach.

Wirth said the name might be the Bonita Springs Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District.

The Fort Myers Beach Council voted unanimously to oppose merging the fire districts.

A public meeting to discuss this proposal is scheduled for Oct. 31 at 9 a.m. at Florida Southwestern State College.

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