Deputy Chief Kevin Barbot; Stephen Bledsoe, Firefighter and Paramedic (it was his first day!); Arian Moore, Firefighter and Paramedic; Sandy Nering, SHMV Volunteer Coordinator; Craig Shelby, Firefighter and Engineer; Captain Chris Jackson; Tim Barrett, Division Chief of Training

By Sandy Nering
Historical Village Volunteer Coordinator

As the saying goes, if you’re lucky enough to live on Sanibel, you’re lucky enough. Embracing that saying, today was one of those heart-warming days when I truly appreciated living and working on Sanibel. Firefighters from the Palm Ridge station combined a training exercise with community service by skillfully reattaching a weathered and frayed pull to the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village Schoolhouse bell.

Earlier this year the Village bell rope ended up on the schoolhouse floor after its last ring. All fifty feet of jute coiled in a heap at our feet. Up in the belfry a small remnant of rope blew in the breeze unreachable and unattachable. With the roofing materials being not only aged, but potentially dangerous to step upon, a ladder was ruled out as an easy fix. Next came the chore of finding crews who would not only attempt the repair, but even quote the work. As you can guess, the prices were staggering, especially for our charming not-for-profit museum.

So, taking a stroll over to the Sanibel Fire and Rescue District, I met Deputy Chief Kevin Barbot. Kevin’s warm handshake and smile were followed by an offer to walk back to the Village to take a look himself. He studied, he sighed, he mentally measured … all while that smile remained on his face. “The Fire Department is a community member, and we can do this safely as a community service for you and training for us. How about later this week?” he offered.

And that is exactly what the professional, resourceful, and personable Sanibel firefighters accomplished. Many of us, residents and visitors alike, have missed hearing that school bell ring as a welcome to visit and share our Sanibel history. With heartfelt appreciation to the Sanibel Fire Departments’ gracious and skilled assistance … The Village Bell is Back!

Thank you!

Kevin Barbot, Deputy Chief

Chris Jackson, Captain

Tim Barrett, Division Chief of Training

Craig Shelby, Firefighter and Engineer

Arian Moore, Firefighter and Paramedic

Stephen Bledsoe, Firefighter and Paramedic (on his first day!)

President Bill Rahe and Deputy Chief Kevin Barbot
SHMV President Bill Rahe thanks Deputy Chief Kevin Barbot
Sanibel Firefighters
Sanibel Fire to the rescue
Getting the ladder in place took several tries; the old Schoolhouse building required extra care
The bell rope is attached, with Stephen Bledsoe on his back in the belfry, backed up by Arian Moore

Learn more at the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village, open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from mid-October through May 31. The museum closes for the summer on June 1 and re-opens mid-October. The Sanibel Historical Village is located at 950 Dunlop Road (next to BIG ARTS) and there is handicap access to eight of the nine buildings. Aside from Free Admission Day, admission is $15 for adults (18 and over). Members and children are free. For more information, call 472-4648 during museum hours or visit

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