Consumer eViews
FLORIDA CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER TOM GALLAGHER'S WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

Volume 3, Number 42, October 16, 2006

On Saturday evening, Florida lost an outstanding public servant who dedicated his life to serving and protecting his community and improving the lives of youth.

Lake County Sheriff Chris Daniels passed away in a tragic accident while helping to raise money for the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches.   My thoughts and prayers go out to Sheriff Daniels’ family, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, and the residents of Lake County.   

“Success is not the key to happiness,” said Albert Schweitzer, a humanitarian who also dedicated his life to helping others. “Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”

Sheriff Daniels’ untimely death occurred while he was doing what he loved, making lives around him better.  His life ended too soon, but his legacy will live on in the many lives he touched.

 -- Tom Gallagher


MEMORIAL SERVICE TO HONOR FOUR FLORIDA FIREFIGHTERS WHO DIED LAST YEAR IN THE LINE OF DUTY

The 2006 annual Fallen Firefighter Memorial Service was held Friday, October 13, 2006, at the Florida State Fire College in Ocala. Four firefighters who died in the line of duty last year were recognized for their bravery and dedication to serving the public.

The fallen firefighters honored were Lieutenant Dennis J. Bottge, 53, Palm Beach County Fire Rescue; Senior Forest Ranger Henry D. Hobbs, 37, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Forestry; Firefighter Recruit Karl “Kliff” Kramer, 22, Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department; and Lieutenant Frank Kucera, 43, Seminole County Fire Rescue.

The deaths of these firefighters along with 131 others who have given their lives “will not be forgotten and will not be in vain,” said Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Tom Gallagher. “I speak for all Floridians when I say that we are extremely grateful to these men and women for answering the call to serve and to their families for their support of them.”

Lieutenant Bottge died on May 22, 2005, following a 10-year battle with a blood-borne disease he contracted when he was stuck by a needle when a cardiac patient suffered a seizure. Senior Forest Ranger Hobbs died of a heart attack on February 21, 2005, after working to clean up two wildfire locations. Firefighter Recruit Kramer died on May 28, 2005, after suffering heat stroke during training exercises that included high-angle training and a three-mile run. Lieutenant Kucera died on May 27, 2005, of heart-related complications following an air-consumption training exercise.

The firefighters’ names will be added to the Florida Fallen Firefighter Memorial at the State Fire College. This memorial includes firefighters who died as far back as 1885. Their names will also be added to the Fallen Firefighters Wall of Honor in the Capitol.

The memorial service was hosted by the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Florida Joint Council of Fire and Emergency Service Organizations and concluded Fire Prevention Week.


GALLAGHER REVOKES LICENSE OF AGENT WHO SOLD BOGUS STUDENT ACCIDENT POLICIES IN SOUTH FLORIDA

Tom Gallagher, Florida’s chief financial officer, has revoked the license of a Miramar insurance agent who sold bogus student accident insurance to schools, churches and athletic groups such as soccer associations, football leagues and cheerleading groups.

Jeffrey Edward Born, 44, sold at least 39 policies that listed an insurer that did not cover the policies in question. Born agreed to the revocation and Gallagher permanently barred him from working in Florida’s insurance business.

“It is unconscionable that this individual left hard-working families and children vulnerable in an emergency,” said Gallagher, who as CFO oversees the Department of Financial Services. “And I’ve taken action to ensure he never rips off another insurance consumer in Florida.”

The department’s Division of Agent and Agency Services, Bureau of Investigation, conducted the investigation that led to Born’s license revocation. Born worked with his brother, Greg, whose licenses were already revoked in Illinois and Florida for selling policies through a bogus insurance entity.

According to investigators, when the Born brothers started selling the product, it was offered through Security Insurance Company (SIC) of Hartford, but SIC of Hartford terminated its contract with the Born brothers in July 2003. Subsequently, the two started their own company, Security Insurance Company, and fraudulently used the forms and policies they had from SIC of Hartford to send to their customers. As a result, other agents selling the product saw contracts with the name of the licensed company on them and didn't realize the documents were fraudulent.

Gallagher suggested consumers should take the extra precaution of contacting the insurance company to verify coverage has been placed. Anyone who believes they may have been a victim of this or another scam should visit the department’s website at www.MyFloridaCFO.com or call the department’s Consumer Helpline at 1-800-342-2762.


DFS EMPLOYEES AMONG RESPONDERS RECOGNIZED FOR HURRICANE KATRINA RESPONSE

Members of the Division of Insurance Fraud and the State Fire Marshal’s Office were among about 200 state emergency responders on hand Wednesday to accept an official thank you from Governor Jeb Bush and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour for assisting Mississippi in its recovery following Hurricane Katrina last year.  

Florida sent more than 7,000 responders and more than $80 million in aid in what is being described as Florida’s largest state-to-state assistance in history.

 “I am extremely proud of the thousands of Florida emergency responders who selflessly aided impacted communities along the Gulf Coast recover from catastrophic Hurricane Katrina,” said Governor Bush. “Florida received help from more than 35 states during the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons, and we remain steadfastly committed to aiding our neighbors in times of crisis.” 

 “On behalf of the people of Mississippi, it is an honor to thank the thousands of Floridians who provided tremendous assistance to our state in our time of greatest need,” said Governor Barbour.

Tom Gallagher, Florida’s chief financial officer and state fire marshal, commended not only department personnel who were deployed to Mississippi but also those who remained behind to respond to the needs of citizens in South Florida also impacted by Hurricane Katrina, the state’s sixth storm in just over a year.  

“It’s a real testament to the kind of people we have in this department,” Gallagher said.  “We stretched our resources so we could lend a hand to our neighbors in need, and I thank every one of our employees who helped make that possible.”

The Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations, the law enforcement arm of the State Fire Marshal’s Office, won a Davis Productivity Award for maintaining its responsibilities after sending about one-third of its sworn force to Mississippi.

List of resources the state provided to Mississippi:

COMMODITIES:

·       Water - 768 truckloads (3,648,000 gals.)
·       Ice - 457 truckloads (19,194,000 lbs.)
·       Juice - 16 trucks (16,000 cases)
·       Shelf Stable Meals - (138,000 meals)
·       USDA commodities - 6,000 cases
·       Baby food, formula, etc. - 20,892 cases
·       Baby supplies (nipples, diapers, wipes) - 4,962 cases
·       Adult diapers, wipes - 376 cases
·       Children Liquid Supplement - 10,200 cases
·       Adult Liquid Supplement - 5,100 cases

RESOURCES:

·       1,200 Porta Potties with service
·       180 each 30-cubic yard dumpsters with service
·       113 Tons of Quick Lime
·       6 Trucks of Bleach (Sodium Hypochlorite)
·       33,280 Blankets
·       500 Fuel Cans
·       500 12/3 power cords with adaptors
·       2,000 HEPA Filtration Masks
·       2,000 Body Bags
·       300,000 “Bath-in-a-Bag” units
·       162 Small 8-12 kW portable generators
·       1000 traffic cones
·       1000 portable barricades
·       6 Administrative Supply Kits for affected counties
·       6 Essential Tool and Equipment Kits for affected counties
·       50 Piece Computer network lease for Joint Task Force operations center at Stennis
·       97 - Generators
·       93 - 4000 watt light tower sets
·       154 - Forklifts (warehouse, LUL and All-terrain)
·       1 - 35,000 pound All Terrain Forklift
·       125 - Pallet Jacks
·       25 - Flood Pumps
·       5 - Field HVAC Units
·       1 - 70-Ton Crane

SERVICES:

·       1 State Type I Mobile Command, Control and Communications Vehicle (with self contained support package)
·       7 County Type I Mobile Command Vehicles (self contained support packages)
·       Established one, Type I State Logistics Staging Area in MS
·       Established one Type I Mobilization Area and one Type II Staging Area in FL to support MS Operations
·       2 State Type I Logistics Support Trailer Systems
·       11 High-Speed Satellite Data and Voice communications systems
·       13 Transportable Satellite Voice Radio/Telephone packages
·       250 Hand-held Radios
·       Consulted on the rebuild the 911 Center in Hancock County
·       Interconnected all six southern counties on four State Emergency Deployable, Interoperable Communications Systems (EDICS) with two-way radio networks

·       Two portable repeater trailer systems
·       One security Badgeing System
·       One 500-person USaR Life Support Package (Catering and showers)
·       1,500 person Base Camp
·       One field laundry trailer unit
·       16 Refueling Tankers and Tenders with Diesel and MOGAS, on a continuous basis

o       70,000 Gallons Diesel Fuel
o       130,000 Gallons Unleaded Fuel

·       25 truck shuttle fleet

PERSONNEL and TEAMS:

·       Three Area Command Teams with 115 personnel to manage entire response of six counties
·       Six Incident Management Teams sent to County Emergency Operation Centers
·       Three Logistics Management Teams
·       Urban Search and Rescue Teams
·       Three Type I Teams
·       Four Type II Teams
·       Two Water Rescue Teams
·       One Law Enforcement Mutual Aid Coordination Team
·       767 Law Enforcement Personnel with vehicles and equipment
·       207 Fire Fighting Personnel
·       70 ALS Ambulances and EMS personnel
·       710 Medical Personnel in various disciplines
·       30 Elder Care Specialists
·       1 School Recovery Team
·       1 FDOT Advance Recon Team (10 personnel)
·       1 FDOT Bridge Recovery Team (7 personnel)
·       14 Public Information Officers
·       497 National Guard Personnel (also sent aircraft and equipment)
·       3 zodiac boats w/trailers
·       3 HMMWV’s
·       2 GSA vans
·       2 UH-60 “Black Hawk” helicopters
·       1CH-47 “Chinook”
·       4 Hazmat Teams (8 personnel)
·       14 Volunteer, Donations and Reception Center Personnel
·       13 Animal Control Teams (60 personnel)
·       1 State Animal Response Team (5 personnel)
·       16 Water/Wastewater Facility Teams (101 personnel)
·       4 Communications Personnel
·       38 Recovery Personnel (includes Community Relations, Housing Coordinator, Debris Management Coordinator, DRC Coordinators and NFIP Coordinator)

For additional information on Florida’s hurricane response efforts, please visit www.FloridaDisaster.org


EMERGENCY CONTACT INFORMATION CAN NOW BE ON FILE THROUGH YOUR DRIVER LICENSE

Florida residents can now register information with the state so police can quickly contact relatives in an emergency.

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles unveiled the program on its Web site.

The program adds phone numbers to driver license information that only law enforcement officers can access. The state said nearly 13,000 people signed up in the system's first week.

Here is how it works:

Log onto www.hsmv.state.fl.us/ and click on "Emergency Contact Information."

Then input your driver license information on the first screen and input one or two emergency contacts on the second page.

Residents without computers should go to a library or get help from a friend as there is currently no way to phone in or mail that information.

Residents should also program emergency contacts into their cell phones under the label "ICE," meaning "In Case of Emergency,"  so that emergency officials can then find appropriate contact information on the phone.

With that information, any police officer who runs a driver license through the system can quickly get emergency contacts for the person. The system will be especially useful in finding contacts for people who live alone or have out-of-state relatives

This came about as a result of one woman's teenage daughter being killed in a car accident and taking over five hours to locate the mother to inform her.  This way, if you are in an accident, the police can run the driver license and have the information right away to notify emergency contacts of the person

As of October 1st, any child over five years of age can be issued a Florida identification card.  This will allow your child to be placed into the D.A.V.I.D. system which can provide vital information and a photograph for law enforcement in case of abduction, missing or runaway children.


ENROLLMENT IN VOLUNTARY PRE-KINDERGARTEN INCREASES 

Lt. Governor Toni Jennings announced that only two months into the program's second year, enrollment in Florida's Voluntary Pre-kindergarten (VPK) program has surpassed last year's total enrollment.

Currently, more than 97,000 students are enrolled statewide. The number is expected to continue to increase as parents enroll their children throughout the year.  The total school year enrollment last year, from August 2005 - June 2006, was 96,295 students.  VPK is a free statewide program that prepares 4-year-olds for kindergarten.  Children who are 4 years old on or before September 1, 2006, are eligible to receive free VPK instruction.  Parents interested in enrolling their children should contact their local Early Learning Coalition.  To locate a local Coalition, please visit www.vpkflorida.org.


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