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Beach Fire Board hears fire inspection complaint

February 5, 2014
By BOB PETCHER ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Beach resident George Repetti has been a Fort Myers Beach condominium president at Island's End for the past 16 years.

This past fall, the Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District conducted a fire inspection and found roughly 130 violations linked to the property. Repetti believes that many of the imposed regulations are mere maintenance violations and corrective measures should be handled in-house. He filed a complaint to the Board of Fire Commissioners on Jan. 28, and requested that all of the 2013 violations (a reported 1,200 pages) issued to the condominiums and some businesses on Estero Island by Beach Fire Marshall Ron Martin and his assistants be put on hold until fire officials and affected parties hold a workshop on the matter.

Repetti also addressed the Board in November about the issue.

"I am asking you to let the fire marshal and his people use discretion common sense," said Repetti. "If you give out nonsense violations, you are doing it for a reason. And, it's not a good reason. Anyone who wants to get involved in this should sit down at a workshop to determine what can be done to resolve the problem."

Attorney Guy Burnette of Tallahassee-based Burnette Law Firm was retained as special counsel for the District and attended the January meeting. He spoke about the allegations, a charge of harassment and the noted violations being based upon the applicable fire prevention codes and national and international standards.

"We are talking about matter of absolute life-saving that requires the regulation and enforcement concerning life safety and fire prevention," he said. "I think what is most disturbing is the suggestion that this is being intentionally done as a means of harassment and protecting a budget. I must disagree with those characterizations."

Burnette stated there is "no lawful basis to waive or overlook or disregard any violation that has been identified or brought to the attention of the District," and that there is a pending enactment into a code for an annual inspection for high-risk occupancies.

"This describes properties that either have a high frequency or a high potential for loss of life, which certainly encompasses a high-rise condominium," he said.

Repetti countered by saying condominiums on the Beach are constructed with concrete and steel and that there has not been a single death related to fire in such condos, particularly during a six-year period when Beach Fire did not have a fire inspector. Violations were reported to be involved in lint vents, standpipe shutoff valves, certain doors closing but not latching, roof doors needed to be locked, corroded sprinkler heads and the location of gas grills.

Some violations were eliminated during a second visit to the condominium, one was abated by Beach Fire Chief Darren White and others were corrected by Repetti, who stated that 100 to 110 are still outstanding and 80 to 90 of which "make don't sense."

Repetti has also made accusations that the District is in National Fire Protection Association

violations for using gas grills at two of its fire stations. He claims fire fighters are using such grills indoors and thus illegally.

"As a result of this, I will monitor what the guys on the floor do daily," said White. "There will be a directive put out."



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