by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes
Retired Sanibel Fire and Rescue District Chief William “Bill” Briscoe was recognized with a proclamation last week by the City of Sanibel. Briscoe retired Oct. 8, after 27 years of service and days after Hurricane Ian caused major devastation.
“I want to thank Bill for his service as fire chief,” Sanibel Mayor Holly Smith said as she presented the proclamation Tuesday, Dec. 6 in the city council’s regular meeting.
“I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Bill over the past few years, and (after Hurricane Ian) we had a great partnership and communication throughout the department,” she said.
Briscoe’s career started when he joined the Lee County EMS, after earning a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and psychology from Berry College. He spent three years with Lee County EMS before joining the Sanibel Fire District in 2000.
Briscoe rose through the ranks and became fire chief in October 2020. Throughout his 27-year career he concentrated on furthering his education. He earned several certifications, including structure firefighter, fire service instructor, inspector, investigator and paramedic.
“Chief Briscoe always supported education and never stopped learning,” said new Fire Chief Kevin Barbot. Inspired by his predecessor, Barbot focused on his education.
He earned a bachelor of science degree in emergency management and an associate of science in emergency medicine. Barbot has also received several top-level certifications, such as fire instructor, inspector and paramedic.
“I have accelerated my career by completing many educational accomplishments at a rapid pace,” said Barbot, who wants to set the example for his colleagues. He said the best piece of advise his former boss gave him was to “hold yourself to a higher standard.”
“As the Fire Chief of Sanibel Fire Department, I am expected to go above and beyond,” said Barbot. “This reflects on all aspects of my life and career…I set the example and our firefighters are following it.”
They were among the first responders on the island immediately following the storm, which had washed away sections of the Sanibel Causeway and left those who stayed on the island stranded.
In the two-and-a-half months since then, the fire department has continued to make significant strides in getting up and running for its community. They lost their station on Sanibel Captiva Road near Bowman’s Beach and are operating solely out of the lesser-damaged Palm Ridge Road station. They logged a total of 214 calls in October and November, similar to the previous year.
“Our Sanibel firefighters have been working tirelessly since post hurricane day one to make Sanibel Island the paradise it once was,” said Barbot.
Briscoe told city council members last week it had been a “pleasure to serve Sanibel over the past 27 years. I wish you the best in your recovery and thank you for allowing me to be the person to serve you.”
In September, Briscoe told the Santiva Chronicle he was ready to spend more time with his family and enjoy the next chapter in his life upon his retirement.