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Firefighters honored for response to manufactured home fire as Hurricane Ian approached

Firefighters from the city of Venice, Sarasota County and the Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department, as well as memes of the Venice Public Works Department responded to a fire shortly after midnight, Sept. 29, as Hurricane Ian approached. The fire was extinguished by 2:50 a.m.
Firefighters from the city of Venice, Sarasota County and the Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department, as well as memes of the Venice Public Works Department responded to a fire shortly after midnight, Sept. 29, as Hurricane Ian approached. The fire was extinguished by 2:50 a.m.

VENICE – Members of the city of Venice Fire Rescue, along with the Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department and Sarasota County Fire Dept. were lauded for their efforts in fighting a fire that broke out at Country Club Estates early Sept. 29, as Hurricane Ian approached.

Venice City Manager Ed Lavallee noted that the firefighters responded to fight the blaze in the manufactured home community despite winds of 45 to 55 mph.

Six units in the community of more than 100 homes on the island of Venice burned completely.

This aerial photo shows the damage done by a fire at Country Club Estates that broke out shortly after midnight, Sept. 29, as Hurricane Ian approached.
This aerial photo shows the damage done by a fire at Country Club Estates that broke out shortly after midnight, Sept. 29, as Hurricane Ian approached.

Earlier: Venice, North Port among hardest hit by Hurricane Ian

Watch: Hurricane Ian: Aerial video shows massive flooding in Manatee County, Florida

“This department responded in an incredible way and literally saved a neighborhood,” Lavallee said during a ceremony at the start of the Tuesday meeting of the Venice City Council. “It was only the heroism of this fire department that saved the rest of the village.

“‘Thanks to this department, the skill level and their courage, the rest was saved.”

Firefighters from the city of Venice, Sarasota County and the Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department received a standing ovation at Tuesday morning’s meeting of the Venice City Council, as Venice City Manager Ed Lavallee lauded the response to a fire that broke out after midnight, Sept. 29, at Country Club Estates, as Hurricane Ian approached.
Firefighters from the city of Venice, Sarasota County and the Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department received a standing ovation at Tuesday morning’s meeting of the Venice City Council, as Venice City Manager Ed Lavallee lauded the response to a fire that broke out after midnight, Sept. 29, at Country Club Estates, as Hurricane Ian approached.

In addition to the fire departments, Venice Public Works responded to the blaze, which was complicated by the fact that the city had shut off all water to the island of Venice as a precaution against storm surge.

The fire was reported shortly after midnight and firefighters had it under control by 2:50 a.m.

Venice Fire Rescue Chief Frank Giddens noted that without the participation of the Sarasota County and Nokomis firefighters, the fire might have had a different outcome.

Residents in attendance at the council meeting gave the firefighters a standing ovation.

With about 80% of inspections in the city of Venice complete, there has been roughly $70.4 million in residential property damage and $12.8 million in commercial property damage.

In other action

Venice Fire Rescue Chief Frank Giddens, left, addresses the crowd at the Venice City Council Tuesday, along with Assistant Fire Chief Kyle Hartley, Division Chief Matt Tomer and Venice City Manager Ed Lavallee.
Venice Fire Rescue Chief Frank Giddens, left, addresses the crowd at the Venice City Council Tuesday, along with Assistant Fire Chief Kyle Hartley, Division Chief Matt Tomer and Venice City Manager Ed Lavallee.

Also on Tuesday, the Venice City Council:

• Approved a $3 million state public transportation grant to fund design construction of a new general aviation building at Venice Municipal Airport. The new, hurricane-hardened structure would replace the existing airport office, built in 1989.

• Approved on a 5-1 vote, with Mayo Ron Feinsod in dissent, a conditional use permit to allow an additional seven feet of height above the 35-foot maximum allowed for a multifamily development in commercial zoning. The 53.7-acre parcel is located east of Knights Trail Road, between Gene Green and Ranch roads.

• Approved the first reading of a growth plan amendment changing the percentage of residential development to non-residential development in the Laurel Road neighborhood from the current ratio of 25% to 75% to a 50-50 split of residential to non-residential development.

• Approved a new three-year contract with the Fraternal Order of Police for Venice Police officers. The agreement, which runs from Oct. 1, 2022 through Sept. 30, 2025, creates a new 10-step pay plan, with base salary starting at $53,222 for Step 1, topping out at $80,388 or Step. 10. For the second and third years of the contract, offices will progress one step up the ladder, while those at Step 10 would receive a one-time payment equivalent to 3.5% of their base salary. The contract also allows for negotiation of an additional cost of living increase – if either side provides written notice by May 1 of year two or three.

Earle Kimel primarily covers south Sarasota County for the Herald-Tribune and can be reached at earle.kimel@heraldtribune.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription to the Herald-Tribune.

This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Venice, other local firefighters honored for battling blaze during Ian