Naples, Fla. - Firefighters told to stand down may now be told to get out. The Naples Airport Authority just gave the green light for staff to look for a replacement fire department at the airport. This comes after days of controversy following a house fire off airport property that's now made its way to Naples City Council.
"We do have an issue where the fire department doesn't respond off the airport because the chief says it shouldn't, because that's how he interprets the agreement," said City Council Member Sam Saad.
The agreement between the city and the airport keeps Naples firefighters on airport grounds in case of an emergency. The airport pays about $650 thousand a year for the firefighters and equipment maintenance. Airport Executive Director Ted Soliday says that gave him the right to tell firefighters to respond to the house fire last friday.
"The contract is very clear in my mind that they have a right to go off," said Soliday. "Taking both trucks if they wish."
The Fire Chief tells WINK News the larger truck is not street legal. The City Manager told city council he was not happy with Soliday.
"Frankly, I'm a little bit offended by his statements," said City Manager Bill Moss. "He's got no more right to dispatch one of our vehicles than I do have a right to go over and tell his employees what to do."
Soliday asked the airport advisory board to examine replacing the fire department and they agreed. He says getting bids from another department or a private company could help save the airport more than $100 thousand a year.
"It miight be a win-win for both the city and the port authority," said Soliday.