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Naples Airport director wants to end contract with fire department

Last week, firefighters who were only about a mile away from a massive house fire were never dispatched.  Now, the issue could lead to the City of Naples Fire Department losing out on a $600,000 with the Naples Airport.
/ Source: WBBH-TV

Last week, firefighters who were only about a mile away from a massive house fire were never dispatched.  Now, the issue could lead to the City of Naples Fire Department losing out on a $600,000 with the Naples Airport.
The Naples Airport has fire trucks and crews on site. But those crews were not utilized to fight a blaze last week.  That misunderstanding may have cost a more than two decade-long relationship.
“I can't even imagine watching one of our neighborhood houses burn down and our trucks be right there close and not respond,†said Naples Airport director Ted Soliday.
Anyone within at least a mile of the scene saw the billowing column of smoke – including officials at the Naples Airport.  Director Ted Soliday made the call to send help. But he says, the truck never left.
“For a battalion chief to countermand me is disappointing,†said Soliday.
Naples Fire Chief Stephen McInerny tells us East Naples Fire never needed the airport's help.
“They're already on scene when we find out about the fire. So we don't just self-dispatch units,†said McInerny, “The incident commander graciously said thanks, but no thanks. And the unit returned.â€
McInerny says the truck is designed to respond to aircraft and vehicle fires. It is equipped to fight house fires, but McInerny says it's too dangerous to maneuver on busy streets.
“We could run over a firefighter, a civilian, a police officer. A number of bad things could happen,†said McInerny.
The debate is now fueling what could be the end of an era. For more than 20 years the airport has paid the Naples Fire Department for on-site service.  Soliday says one of the reasons he wants to cut ties comes down to the chain of command.
“The issue is I asked them to respond. I am the director of the airport,†said Soliday.
Soliday says he plans to bring the proposal up at Thursday's airport authority meeting. The board will have the final say.  The current contract between the two sides ends at the end of the year.