Newest fire commissioner has change on his agenda

Published May 23, 2007

BROOKSVILLE - The newest Spring Hill Fire Rescue commissioner looks forward to taking his seat with a strong attitude of change in mind.

On Tuesday, Hernando County commissioners appointed Robert Giammarco to fill an open seat on the five-member fire board. He takes the place of fire commissioner Margaret Perreira.

County commissioners unanimously approved his appointment over three other candidates, including Perreira.

In March, it was discovered that Perreira's term ended in 2006, and that there should have been an election in November of that year. Giammarco, 56, will be on the board through November 2008, when another election will be held.

A former Philadelphia area resident, Giammarco moved to Spring Hill four years ago. He has more than 25 years experience in law enforcement and also has been a volunteer firefighter.

He applied for a fire board position in 2004, when Perreira was appointed. Outspoken and critical of the fire district leaders, Giammarco said that he hopes to remind the board why the district was created in the first place: to protect the people of Spring Hill.

"Since I've been appointed to the board, it's not going to be business as usual, " Giammarco said. "I'm sorry if that sounds rough, but I know of people who are struggling to get by, and someone has to take the reins. Fire district leaders like to spend."

In addition to curbing district spending, he hopes to foster a more open relationship with county government.

"There are a lot of issues I'm not happy with, " he said, declining to further explain his thoughts on the fire district. "Things have got to change and they should start with themselves."

Giammarco is also a member of the Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative Operation Round-Up board, which allows customers to round up their electric bills and donate the money to needy residents.

After the appointment at Tuesday's commission meeting, firefighter Local 2794 leaders were left looking around the room wondering if Giammarco was there.

"I don't know who he is, " said union president Troy Hagar. "I'd like to know if he's ever been to a (fire) meeting."

Chief J.J. Morrison said that he was not familiar with the new fire commissioner, but looked forward to working with him. Fire board chairman Charles Raborn echoed the same.

"It's just like if (the applicants) were running for office, " Raborn said. "We have no control over who runs, just like over who the county picks. Hopefully, he will do the job as well as anyone else."

Times researcher Lea Iadarola contributed to this report. Chandra Broadwater can be reached at cbroadwater@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1432.