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  • FMBFCD History Continued...

    On July 10, 1950, the Fire Department was incorporated as the Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District, Inc., a corporation "not for profit" and Earl Howie was appointed President, J. Travis Cowart, Vice President and NicholisF. Klug, Secretary/ Treasurer. Consequently in 1951 the Florida Legislature enacted Chapter 27676, law of Florida, which created Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District into a special taxing District. The original limit on advalorem taxes for the District was $6,000. This sum was regulated by the Board of Lee County Commissioners, but in 1953 the Section was amended and the taxes raised to two (2) mills on all real and personal property. The special act provided for a ratification by the qualified voters in the proposed District and the appointment of three (3) Board Members by the Governor of the State. The ratification election was held and the enactment confirmed on June 5, 1951. When the Fire District first established the geographical territory was confined to San Carlos and Estero Islands, but subsequently in 1963 extended to the mainland at the "Old Railroad Grade" or due south of Pine Ridge Road.

    The first organizational meeting of the Fire Board took place on December 15, 1951 at Mr. Hugh Branham's home. The order of business was the election of Mr. Don Zimmer, Chairman and R H. Smith, Secretary/Treasurer and they discussed the purchase of a bond. On April 14, 1952, the Fire Commission approved the yearly salaries of $1,440.00 for Chief Earl Howie and $1,200.00 for Nick Brivaalua, with the arrangement that one of the two will be available every day. The District's action established the Beach Fire Department as only the second fire department in the County with compensated personnel.

    Mr. Donald Zimmer and Mrs. Ora Zimmer, on December 28, 1951, donated land on Estero Boulevard for a fire station, provided, however, "that the described property be maintained as a main and operating fire and engine house," or consequently the land reverts back to the Zimmers or their heirs. An additional parcel of land was acquired from the Zimmers on February 27, 1961 for the expansion of the flrehouse.

    In 1952, the Department invested in a 1947 Jeep to tractor the Irailer/firepump and in 1956, the District purchased their first new Ford fire engine. This truck had a 750 gallon per minute American LaFrance mid-ship pump, ladders and 750 gallon water tank, therefore establishing the Department with a sound arsenal of fire equipment. April 23, 1959 the Fire Commission of William H. Mellor, Dwitt Ward and Paul R. Fell approved the first Control Burn Ordinance, which declared "that no person shall kindle or maintain any bonfire or rubbish fire within the District." This action was a considerable advance in the future of fire prevention, in that while the Ordinance has been updated, it is still enforced today.

    The year 1960 was a historic year for the Fort Myers Beach Fire Department. They took delivery of a 4 wheel drive Dodge truck with a 500 gallon tank and 750 G.P.M. front mount, Barton American pump. In October Motorola radios were installed in the trucks, and with the help of Governor Leroy Collins the District obtained a radio license and call letters KAT-764. On August 9, 1960, the District acquired property adjoining the firehouse and in September Hurricane Donna walloped the beach.

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