20 Tough Questions For the Fire Chief: Are You Prepared To Answer Them? Question 3

A successful response to this question can be reviewed as having three distinct parts: staffing, response time and resources (i.e., apparatus). Resources, in the form of apparatus required to get the staff to the emergency in a timely fashion, has...


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For EMS responses, the concepts are the same. Evaluate the metrics previously described and complete a historical analysis to assist in developing a response matrix. Many EMS systems have successfully applied these concepts to predicting resource needs during high call volume periods. Consider parsing the EMS response matrix based on the severity of the emergency (e.g., life-threatening versus non-emergency calls). If your department responds to medical calls with a fully staffed engine company, consider whether responding those resources are always appropriate for the type of emergency. For some types of medical calls, a response of two personnel in a smaller vehicle may be more efficient.

As resource needs are evaluated, involve all levels of the organization in the process. Keeping personnel informed and involved will improve understanding and cooperation. It will be important to ensure your elected officials and the citizens are informed of the resources and service levels they can expect. Each level has a cost. When resource levels are low, there will be a potential consequence. Use factual data, applied in a logical manner, to justify your resource-allocation decisions.

To answer this tough question, fire department administrators may have to engage in tough discussions with elected officials, fire department members and citizens. The expectations of each group may vary widely and may be driven by different motives. The fire department administrator’s job is to be an educator and an advocate for right-sized responses that ensure firefighter and public safety. n

 

Richard Gasaway, Ph.D., will present “Fireground Safety: Common Mistakes & Best Practices” and “Leader’s Toolbox for Volunteers” (with Richard Kline) at Firehouse Expo 2012, July 17-21 in Baltimore, MD.

RICHARD B. GASAWAY, Ph.D., served for 30 years in public safety, including 22 years as a chief fire officer, before retiring in 2009. He holds bachelor’s, master’s and a doctor of philosophy degrees in finance, economics, business administration and leadership and he is the principal consultant at the Gasaway Consulting Group. Dr. Gasaway is the host of the “Leader’s Toolbox” podcast radio show on Firehouse.com and runs the Situational Awareness Matters! website www.SAMatters.com.

RICHARD C. KLINE has been the fire chief for the City of Plymouth, MN, since 1992 and is a senior associate at the Gasaway Consulting Group. He holds a master’s degree in public safety and is a credentialed chief fire officer through the Commission on Public Safety Excellence. Kline is the chairman for the Minnesota State Fire Chief Association’s Safety and Health Committee. The authors can be reached at: Support@RichGasaway.com or 612-548-4424.