10-18-2000, 11:59 AM #1monteFirehouse.com Guest
Community Expectations of Your Department
Got involved with an interesting discussion the other night; subject matter common to many threads I have read here. It involved the pay or no-pay status of an ems worker that is in charge of the districts ambulance service. It operates as part of the volunteer fire district, and relates to the huge workload to keep the ambulance current and legal, and all ems personnel current and legal. The rising cost of doing business, the few ems people available for runs, the loss of personal business opportunities and income because of the ems commitment, and so forth. This discussion underlayed a request for becoming a paid ems service; wheather it was salary, stipend, bonus, or gift, it made no difference. What I am wondering, as it applys to fire as well as ems and rescue is ... are we placing an unmanageable burden on ourselves to meet self imposed expectations? Do we really have to provide intermediate bls and try to reach als certification if the community doesn't want it? Do we try and structure a department to meet complex fire, hazmat, and rescue situations if the community does not want it? Accepting we need to be qualified to recognize the complexity, but are we making our jobs more frustrating by expecting ourselves to be better trained and equipped than the level of community support, and the law requires? My examples would be: do we truely need updated equipment to meet a community expectation that will not support it, such as a new tax base supported engine, or tax base supported training (paid status, per diem, currency)? How about paying the ems responders for the commitment to learned skills, currency, etc? Also, how often do we try to measure community expectations other than trying to increase the next mil levy? In most cases, I am referring to the acceptance of raising taxes. And, if you have, how did you do it? Also, have any departments made an effort to educate the community on what you are capable of providing? I have an enquiring mind. thanx
10-18-2000, 12:58 PM #2CAPTAIN WHOFirehouse.com Guest
This is a question / comment we ask ourselves alot. People that disagree with a particular service or skill are normally the more vocal ones. These are also the 1st people to start a law suite because they suddenly needed the service that they were against.
The tough job is to always look to your communities growth and development plans and patterns and anticipate what is needed before it's needed. When you purchase a new apparatus you don't look at what will work today. You need to look at what will be needed in 10 years. Initially you will have more than what you needed but in 10 years the unit will be on par. Remember chances are this rig will be in service for 20 plus years.
Staffing and training is the same. If you are aware an industrial development is taking place in the next year or so start training and obtaining courses now, gradually so the impact is not severe on budgets and this way your ready or almost ready when the tones ring.
I belive its up to the department to decide what is needed for the community in conjunction with your council members. If you can demonstrate a need eventually they will agree. We are looking at adding 5-10 more members to our roster in the next 2-3 years. This is expensive to do all of a sudden and will meet resistance. We are starting to purchase needed equipment for this now. More SCBA, cylinders, Spare bunker gear, training room chairs etc.
There is always the desire to be the best you can be. We have found gradual and anticipated service growth is key to acceptance. Also remember that John Public is usually running away while your running in. John Public also forgets that your paying taxes also, but who would now better than you that Johnny's a** is grass if senario X comes up.
10-18-2000, 02:33 PM #3ADSN/WFLDFirehouse.com Guest
Try some aggressive public education. Imagine the public's reaction if little billy fell into an unprotected trench, broke his leg, and we stood around trying to decide what to do, without violating OSHA law. It's a hard sell, or perhaps an other agency is best suited for some aspects of rescue work, like trench, confined space, vertical, dive, even haz mat.
While some areas of the country are joining EMS and Fire, others are letting the privates take over, their is no one correct answer.
I would suggest taking a long hard look at your community and deciding what you can and want to do. Perhaps the city or county's elected officials can be included in this discussion, they may be able to offer a solution that you hadn't thought of.
Then whatever you decide have an open house, do some pub ed at the schools and community centers and let the public know what the deal is. If everyone is on the same page then no one can realy bitch about the services you provide.
Good luck and stay safe
10-19-2000, 05:35 PM #4JAMESBENNETTFirehouse.com Guest
YOU POSE A GOOD QUESTION AND LIKE WAS SAID EARLIER I DON'T THINK THAT ANY ONE ANSWER WILL WORK THE SAME IN ANOTHER AREA. HERE WE ARE LOOKED UPON BY THE INSURANCE INDUSTY AND THAT IS WERE MOST OF THE EXPERCTATION ARE PLACED ON US. WE HAVE MET WITH OUR CITY GOVERNMENT AND EXPLAINED IN DETAIL TO THEM THESE EXPECTATIONS AND TOLD THEM OUR GOALS AND NEEDS TO OBTAIN THE ONE'S THAT WE FELT WERE WITH-IN OUR CONTROL. WHEN I SAY THIS I MEAN WE LOOKED AT THE MONEY WE HAD; THE I.S.O. RATING WE CURRENTLY HELD; THE EQUIPMENT NEEDEDS THAT WE HAD; AND TRIED TO FIND A PLACE WHERE WE COULD LAND TO BEST HELP OUR CITIZENS WHEN THEY PAY FOR INS.
THE EXPERTATION OF EVERYONE IS TO PAY THE LOWEST POSSIBLE INS.PREMIUM, BUT NOT TO PAY THE DIFFENCE AT TAX TIME EITHER. SO WE SAT DOWN WITH A REP. FROM I.S.O. AND OUR CITY GOVERNMENT AND MADE A PLAN THAT WE HAVE ALMOST COMPLETED. WE HOPE TO BE IN THE LOWER END OF A 4 OR MAYBE THE TOP END OF A 3 RATING AFTER OUR AUDIT IN JANUARY. THIS WAS THE BEST WE COULD DUE IN EQUIPMENT PURCHASES AND FEEL THAT WE HAVE SEARVED OUR FOLKS WELL.
WE ALL KNOW THAT EQUIPMENT DOESN'T MAKE A GOOD DEPT., BUT GOOD STONG VALUES, KNOWLEGDE, AND PRIDE IS WHAT MAKES US WORK. IT IS TO BAD THAT IT DOESN'T REALLY COUNT FOR MUCH WITH I.S.O. THEY ARE MORE CONCERNED ABOUT WEATHER I HAVE A CUTTING TORCH ON MY TRUCK AND A HOSE PATCH ON MY ENGINE THAN ANY PRIDE AND COMMUNITY SPIRIT THAT GOES IN TO THE SAYING "NOT ON MY WATCH"
AS FAR AS EMS GOES OUR COUNTY HAS THE EMS SERVICE CONTRACTED OUT TO RURAL METRO. WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO WORK WITH SOME OTHER DEPARTMENTS WITH-IN OUR CITY AND COUNTY TO OBTAIN SOME SPECIALIZED EQUIPMENT THAT WE CAN USE. FOR EXAMPLE, OUR WATER DEPARTMENT HAS SHORING FOR TRENCH RESCUE THAT THEY USE OFTEN FOR THIER JOBS. IF WE WOULD HAVE BOUGHT THE EQUIPMENT, IT WOULD HAVE ONLY COME OUT OF THE STATION MAYBE ONCE EVERY COUPLE OF YEARS. I HAVE SEEN THIS TYPE OF INTERLOCAL AGREEMENTS ALL OVER AND I THINK IT IS MORE THAN LIKELY THE MOST WIDELY USED FOR THINGS SUCH AS YOU MENTIONED.
[This message has been edited by JAMESBENNETT (edited October 19, 2000).]
10-20-2000, 04:10 PM #5JimTFirehouse.com Guest
Wow...what stuff you have to deal with!!! I thought we had it rough! I may be showing my ignorance here, but I've always thought it would be awesome to have a government body or tax base to fund the fire dept. Our 21 member, 4 bay rural dept. is not associated with any incorporated community. The very bad thing is that we (the members)have to raise 80% of the money we spend. The other %20 is county funded. Our current payment on our 1999 pumper is $14,000 a year and our rescue unit is $4,500. We own our tanker and brush truck. The "this, that, and the others" usually round out our annual expenditures to about $32,000. The GOOD thing is that we can buy whatever we deem neccessary to improve the effectiveness of our dept. Since no one gets paid, we don't have to worry about how many positions get funded. I really feel for you guys that have to deal with such situations...you won't hear me complain any more! STAY SMART...STAY SAFE...ISIAH 43:1-2!!!!!
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