Commissioner Weighs in on Fire-Rescue Alternatives. In the Twilight Zone


Above: Screenshot from June 3, 2020 City Commission Agenda

Less than two weeks ago, MargateNews.net printed an opinion piece I authored on the Margate/Coconut Creek Fire Department separation. An ill-conceived notion at a perilous time that will endanger residents and greatly increase Coconut Creek’s costs (see their contract with Coral Springs for 911 service). Now less than two weeks later, our Commission is being asked to explore giving up control of our award-winning Fire Department to BSO! Whose actual idea is this? I wish I knew!

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Having a discussion this important in a Zoom meeting, where only those who are computer savvy will be able to attend and comment, and where our most affected seniors will be unable to attend is wrong. I thought it was wrong the way Coconut Creek did it, not allowing live participation during its meeting. Is it any less wrong for Margate? This topic is so critical to the future of our City that it needs to be discussed in broad daylight with 100% transparency! All of our residents need to have the ability to be heard in City Hall. This is the wrong time, the wrong venue and wrong on so many other levels.

I have always said that it takes three things (a three legged stool) to run a City well: a Fire Department, a Police Department and control of its water supply. Margate has all three and the three are amazing. This agenda item, for the Wednesday night June 3rd Commission meeting, is to talk about kicking out one of those critical legs. This goes against my core beliefs. As I previously have written, Margate has one of the very best Fire Departments in the State. Internationally recognized and our Advanced Life Support Team (ALS) is representing the United States in the upcoming International competition being held in Dade County. We received our spot because we earned it, kudos to all involved.

Again, MARGATE earned the United States slot and we are considering giving up that standard of quality!

Is this a very bad “Twilight Zone” episode?

We have an Excelsior rated Police Department, an internationally recognized Fire Department and great tasting water. In December, this Commission voted to protect our water supply (up to two million extra gallons of water a DAY) for our residents, for the next 48 years, by joining in on the C-51 project.

Several years ago, we were sold a crappy bill of goods by our then City Manager and got rid of Margate’s 911 Call Center and joined the Broward County Sheriff’s 911 Dispatch Center. That poor decision has had a cascading effect that has led us to where we are today. Now some want us to give our Fire Department away! Have we lost our minds? Is the frying pan so hot that we are willing to jump into the fire? I must say, “NO”. It is time to put the brakes on, reassess our situation, reach out to our neighbors (that have their own fire departments) that border Margate on the south and come up with ideas.

Why not reconstitute our own 911 system? The contract with Coral Springs, the way it is currently written, should never be approved by us. Never! If we have to spend the money, why not re-invest it on our own long term needs? I have always preferred being an owner to that of a renter, though at times things may get hard…I always know what my expenses are and why they have to rise.

The adjustments we have had to make to deal with the coronavirus, should not be used as an opportunity to put one over on the public. If I wasn’t happy with the way Coconut Creek acted, then you must understand that I deplore the very idea that this is currently on our agenda.

If we have had issues with the Broward County Sheriff’s Departments operation of the 911 system, imagine how we will like BSO’s control of the Fire service to our residents if we surrender control to them?

We need to control our own destiny.

Margate City Commissioner, Anthony Caggiano

acaggiano@margatefl.com

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