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Firehouse: The City of Denver doesn’t have a significant wildland/urban interface (W/UI), but how have the recent Colorado wildfires affected the department?
Tade: The Denver Fire Department maintains a significant-size wildland team, which has been deployed most of the summer due to the numerous wildfires, resulting in extensive backfill hiring to maintain staffing levels. In addition, we have deployed a five-engine strike team on two different occasions.
Firehouse: Has the financial crisis affected the fire department?
Tade: Like many departments across the country, the Denver Fire Department has been affected by considerable budget cuts. In order to maintain our staffing levels, in a collaborative effort with the union, our department was able to increase efficiencies, increase revenues and gain support from city leadership.
Firehouse: Are you planning to hire new recruits?
Tade: Yes, 20 recruits were hired in July and a recruit class has been budgeted for 2013.
Firehouse: Are there any plans to recruit and hire minorities?
Tade: Yes. The department maintains a full-time recruiter and continues to look for new and innovative ways to enhance our recruiting and outreach plans.
Firehouse: Do you accept lateral transfers?
Tade: At this time, we do not accept lateral transfers; however, we intend to propose a ballot measure to change the City Charter, which would allow for lateral transfers.
Firehouse: How have you been able to keep in tune with the city and the rank-and-file?
Tade: The department diligently maintains strong collaborative and communicative relationships with other city agencies and city leadership. The department fosters this by maintaining good labor-management relationships, transparency and the willingness to answer the “why” questions as they relate to policies and decisions. In addition, we have made a concerted effort to ensure all command staff members make regular station visits.
Firehouse: Please describe your commitment to training.
Tade: In addition to regularly scheduled training through our Safety and Training Division, we are currently striving to instill a culture of Operations Division-initiated training. This training will provide for the continual evaluation and enhancement of company standards. All Operations Division companies are evaluated on basic standards annually and provide a variety of hands-on specialized training opportunities. In addition to hands-on training, the department is engaging in ongoing professional development/standard training program that will focus on the following:
• Developing an understanding of diversity that acknowledges both its role as a resource and a challenge
• Providing skills and experience in basic conflict resolution practice, specifically as it involves diversity issues
• Creating a common standard of professionalism as it relates to human resource issues and underscores the role of leadership in maintaining this professional standard
Firehouse: To be eligible to take an exam by Civil Service for promotion, you need to get a certification in an officer development course. Is this helpful?
Tade: Yes, because this prepares the candidate to begin thinking about all aspects of fire service and not just emergency incident preparation.
Firehouse: Do you continue to work to improve your ISO Class 2 rating?
Tade: Yes, the department is constantly evaluating ways to improve our rating.
Firehouse: Please explain the Fit for Fire Program.
Tade: The Fit for Fire Program is a compilation of various activities that are designed to increase the physical wellness of our members and provide a greater understanding of the importance of wellness. The program serves as a starting point for a more comprehensive program.