Also in News Briefs: The post-Matthew tax problem: Is your property up to date?
The Palm Coast Fire Department celebrated promotions and new rank assignments for 25 firefighters during a Pinning Ceremony Jan. 12. The firefighters being honored were “pinned” by family members and fellow firefighters at the ceremony at Palm Coast City Hall.
The large Pinning Ceremony was the result of a restructuring of the Fire Department’s rank system. Two new ranks were added: battalion chief (which is below deputy chief and above lieutenant) and driver-engineer (which is below lieutenant and above firefighter). The Palm Coast Fire Department has 57 career personnel, plus 45 volunteer members.
The department’s three existing captains were automatically changed to the new rank of battalion chief. That created three openings for captain, which in turn created three openings for lieutenant. In addition, 15 firefighters were promoted to the new rank of driver-engineer. The selections were made through written, practical application and tactical testing, role-playing exercises, and interviews.
“I personally want to thank everybody for what they’ve done to get here,” said Palm Coast Fire Chief Mike Beadle. “It’s been a long, long, long journey for many, but this is the culmination and the payoff of those years of sacrifice and the training and the testing.”
The restructuring of the rank system is designed to improve retention of personnel and follows a study that looked at firefighter turnover. In addition, it was done in anticipation of a number of retirements from the department between 2018 and 2020.
Adding the new ranks will give the department more leadership succession opportunities in the coming years and also strengthen the middle ranks, said Deputy Chief Jerry Forte.
“This is the first step in our organization to plan for the future,” Forte said.
The restructuring was years in the making, and the promotion process was rigorous and took many months to complete. Forte also thanked the personnel and told them how proud he is.
Under the new structure, only driver-engineers will drive fire trucks responding to calls. One benefit is that the city’s fleet division can work more closely with those drivers on fire truck maintenance and repair issues. In addition, each of the new driver-engineers will be paired with a lieutenant as a leadership team, providing stability if and when there is personnel turnover. Each of the firefighters promoted will receive a 5-percent raise with their new responsibilities.
The rank changes and promotions are as follows:
Battalion Chiefs: Ronald Petrillo, Mark Valentik, Sean Major
Captains: Kyle Berryhill, Gary Potter, Thomas Ascone
Lieutenants: Dan Driscoll, John Kozloski, Joseph Paci
Driver Engineers: Jeffrey Poeira, Mike Chandley, Daniel Hackney, Mark Davidson, Leo Chumaceiro, Adam Bachman, Christopher Cottle, Omar Kanaan, Robert Ballou, Daniel Bouillon, Eric Robinson, Colin Craig, Jeff Nunziato, Nikolay Kulev, David Faust, Andrew Woolwine.
The post-Matthew tax problem: Is your property up to date?
After Hurricane Matthew, some residents felt it was too expensive to make repairs to a damaged shed or screen cage, and they decided to eliminate the shed or screen, instead.
In fact, that happened to a neighbor of Flagler County Property Appraiser Jay Gardner, and it got him thinking: How many other people eliminated features of their property but didn’t report it?
“If we know it’s not there, we’ll take it off the tax roll,” Gardner said. However, his employees don’t visit every house every year, so his office might not find out that a particular resident is entitled to pay lower taxes — unless the resident reports it by calling the Property Appraiser’s Office at 313-4150.
Also, March 1 is the deadline to file for homestead, senior or other exemptions.