One seat on the five-member Board of Fire Commissioners of the Greater Naples Fire Rescue District is on the ballot this year for voters who live in the District’s East Naples Division. Find your district here. For more, see my post Fire and Emergency Medical Services in Collier County.
The candidates are Al Duffy and incumbent Jeff Page.
In this post, I will review what I learned from researching the candidates running for seats on Collier County’s fire district boards and the money that is financing the campaigns. Please see How I Research Candidates and 6 Things to Consider When Evaluating Candidates for how I approach writing these posts. I also asked the candidates to complete a questionnaire and included excerpts from their responses edited for clarity and brevity as well as links to the complete documents below.
Al Duffy began his fire service career in 1981 as a volunteer firefighter on Long Island, NY. He moved to Collier County in 1985, serving first with the City of Naples and the last 30 years with the North Naples Fire & Rescue District as a Firefighter/EMT, retiring in 2019 as Battalion Chief. He served as Secretary and President of the North Naples Professional Firefighters IAFF Local 2297 and obtained an AS Degree in Fire Science in 2006.
Candidate Questionnaire Responses
Duffy submitted a statement rather than respond to my specific questions in my candidate questionnaire. “I am seeking to become Fire Commissioner with Greater Naples Fire District to better serve the community and Fire District, along with staying involved in the Public Safety field,” he wrote.
Duffy has been endorsed by the Collier Firefighters & Paramedics ECO and Collier First Responders, a political committee. “Experience counts in a fire commissioner,” they wrote in an image shared on the union’s Facebook Page.
- Firefighters battle rough terrain, thick vegetation to put out brush fire. “We will try to get more resources out because more resources we get ahead of time and not catching up the better it is for us,” said Al Duffy, North Collier Fire, the battalion chief. “That’s faster attack on the fire.” WINKnews.com, 5/28/19
In His Own Words
Incumbent Jeff Page retired in 2011 from Collier County EMS in 2011 after over 30 years of service, of which the last 11 were as the Chief. In 2012, he was elected commissioner for the East Naples Fire District board. He was reelected in 2016 with 54 percent of the vote, defeating current challenger Duffy. Page currently serves as chairman of the consolidated Greater Naples Fire District board.
Candidate Questionnaire Responses
Asked why he is running for this position, Page said that since his election:
“We have facilitated the consolidation of two independent special fire districts (East Naples and Golden Gate) and two county-owned MSTU fire districts (Isles of Capri), and District 1, resulting in a lowering of millage rates, reductions in duplicate management positions, negotiation of a single labor agreement and expansion of fire rescue services and programs. There is more work to be done.”
Three things he wants to accomplish if reelected are:
1. “Add another county-owned MSTU fire district (Ochopee) to the combined Greater Naples Fire organization;”
2. “Build a centralized warehouse facility for the district instead of renting space;” and
3. “Sell the property that the District has on US 41, just south of Thomasson Drive, and use that money for a new station site more suited to the needs of the District.”
A past policy decision of the Board he disagrees with and would like to change is:
“Have all five of the District seats be changed to a District-wide election instead of the current East Naples, Golden Gate specific seats. The District has grown since the original consolidation of just the East Naples and Golden Gate fire districts and is currently the largest fire district in the state. Those citizens living in the expanded areas need to have a chance of having their own representation.”
The most important thing voters should know about him is that “Since my election in 2012, I have been elected Chairman by my fellow board members five times.”
Page has the endorsement of Collier County Commissioner Donna Fiala. “This guy knows emergency business from the ground up,” she wrote in Coastal Breeze News in July. “He worked for many years with EMS, and then decided to work the other side of the coin as well, as a Fire Commissioner!”
While the Naples Daily News is not endorsing candidates this year, Page had its endorsement four years ago “based on career experience and his commitment to well-thought-out fire consolidation.”
- Collier medical pilot who won whistleblower lawsuit placed on leave. The pilot “was placed on paid leave by Jeff Page, chief of Collier Emergency Services, against the recommendation of Deputy County Attorney Scott Teach hours before he was to work as the EMS pilot Friday night.” Naples Daily News, 7/23/11
- EMS Chief Jeff Page announces his retirement. Page “has been a key leader responsible for the creation of one of the finest, most respected advanced life support emergency medical services operations in the country.” Collier County News Release, 7/28/11
- Fla. fire department seeks to take over ambulance services. “Outgoing EMS Chief Jeff Page is already signaling a potential fight, calling North Naples [fire] officials too inexperienced in ambulance services to run such an operation.” EMS1, 8/8/11
- Collier EMS names interim chief to take over for Jeff Page. Naples Daily News, 8/12/11
- East Naples Fire Control and Rescue District Mergers. “‘We see the future where the fire districts must work more cooperatively with the County and we believe having the County manage the fire plans reviews with us just makes sense for businesses and our organization,’ said ENFD Commissioner Jeff Page.” Coastal Breeze News, 4/9/14
In His Own Words
According to campaign finance filings as of 10/06/20:
I reviewed the financial reports and noted that Page reported monetary contributions from Collier County Commissioner Donna Fiala, former Collier County EMS Medical Director Dr. Robert Tober, and community leaders Reg Buxton, Marvin Easton, Michael Reagen, and Dave Trecker. Of the 35 monetary contributions Page reported, 7 were in the amount of $1,000 each; the others ranged from $50 to $800.