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Fire access error was avoidable

Published March 1, 2007


My curiosity got the best of me after reading that the Spring Hill Fire Rescue District's new ladder truck is not capable of gaining access to certain buildings. What also caught my attention is that fire commissioner Gene Panozzo was on the losing end - or I should say, the minority end - of a vote.

Panozzo voted to use tax dollars to update the driveway of a new construction site so the ladder truck can gain access to a development, Triple B, on Forest Oaks Boulevard, because the fire district's newly purchased ladder truck could not gain access. One published report said "it was an unforeseen problem and apparently nobody's fault."

This answer just doesn't sound correct. I may not be a fire inspector, but I am somewhat familiar with the National Fire Protection Association codes.

I requested all public records related to the Triple B development. The county Development Department was a tremendous help. After carefully reviewing the site plans and NFPA standards, my curiosity paid off.

In the NFPA code, Page 113, Chapter, it states: "The angle of approach and departure for means of fire department access shall not exceed a one-foot drop in 20 feet." This equates to a maximum 5 percent grade.

The site plan driveway profile clearly shows an 8 percent incline, followed by a 6 percent incline. The code has been in effect since 2004, way before the Triple B driveway was approved and long before Spring Hill's ladder truck was delivered.

In essence, the approval of this site plan, which was approved by the Spring Hill Fire Inspection Division, is in violation of NFPA code Chapter 18.

The Spring Hill Fire Rescue plan review deficiency statement control No. 11667038, dated June 16, 2005, contains no comments from the fire safety inspector, Dana Panozzo. It is evident she did not enforce the Florida Fire Prevention code in reference to fire department apparatus access and departure.

On April 28, 2006, fire inspector Panozzo had a second chance to review the final site plan; again it is unfortunate she signed off on these plans and still found nothing wrong.

So, fire commissioner Gene Panozzo voted to use taxpayer money to correct a situation that fire inspector Dana Panozzo - his wife - possibly could have prevented. How does this happen?

Robert Kanner, Brooksville

Editor's note: Kanner is a former Spring Hill fire commissioner.

Re: Board frets as teachers quit Feb. 21 story

Look up 'contract': it's enforceable

I rushed to my dictionary to look up the word "contract" when I read the above story. The dictionary said, "An enforceable agreement between parties."

Gee, I was right. That's exactly what my teacher taught me.

John Albert, Spring Hill

Re: The Hickory Hill campaign Feb. 25 story

Article exposed real motivations

Thanks to Times staff writer Dan DeWitt and his journalistic expertise in the article about Sierra Properties' campaign to promote its proposed Hickory Hill community in eastern Hernando County. I finally have information to back my suspicions that those who have written letters in support of the project have special interests in their hearts and pockets.

The article exposes the Sierra intent on disposing his self-interests as something just shy of a godsend to a community realizing the impact of progressive growth.

As letters have appeared in the Times, there has been something odd about the content of those supporting the project because of their seemingly rational outlook on a high-end subdivision and its positive impact on the county. Telltale signs included a nonchalant attitude (Jason Stafford, Feb. 16) and a dreamy-eyed look of the project (Clyde Bradley). After a letter was printed in December from resident Shirley Robinson there was contact from a lawyer representing Sierra, which left her intimidated. Since then, Brent Whitley, vice president of development for Sierra Properties, has written to validate the positive aspects of the project (Jan. 22). His comments were very informative as presented by a conscientious professional, correcting misconceptions of other writers.

The grand prize demonstrating their noble cause was Sebring Sierra's guest column (Feb. 2) with more facts and figures to further sell the idea of Utopia in such a prime location, succumbing to encroachment within a distance that accommodates the interests of Tampa.

It's a feeling of betrayal to learn from Mr. DeWitt's article how individual proponents of Hickory Hill have their own interests, such as selling a Spring Lake home to the developer at a very nice price, then moving out of the vicinity. Businesses that would benefit from the project are justified in giving their support, but this newfound wealth from the 1,749 homes will do little to enhance the average pay of less than $14 per hour for those who live and work in the county. These wage earners will never realize the extravagance of a gated community.

Sierra Properties LLC must realize there are residents in Hernando County other than those in Spring Lake who are watchful of their actions. We will be affected sooner than can be imagined.

Ron Rae, Spring Hill

Your voice counts

We welcome letters from readers for publication. To send a letter from your computer, go to and fill in the required information. Type your letter in the space provided on the form, specify that you are writing the Hernando section of the newspaper, and then click "submit." You also may cut and paste a letter that you have prepared elsewhere in your computer.

If you prefer, you may fax your letter to (352) 754-6133, or mail it to: Letters to the Editor, Hernando Times, 15365 Cortez Blvd., Brooksville, FL 34613.

All letters should be brief and must include the writer's name, city of residence, mailing address and telephone number. When possible, letters should include a handwritten signature. Addresses and telephone numbers will not be printed. The Times does not publish anonymous letters.

Letters may be edited for clarity, taste, length and accuracy. We regret that not all letters can be printed.

[Last modified March 1, 2007, 06:55:05]

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