Why register? ...To Enhance Your Experience
+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 9 of 9
  1. #1
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    6,413

    Post Daytona Beach Fla--Union Official Challenge County on Staffing

    Daytona Beach News Journal

    Union leader decries low staffing at county fire stations

    By LYDA LONGA
    Staff Writer

    Last update: 26 May 2003


    DAYTONA BEACH -- A searing report prepared by a Volusia County firefighters union leader reveals dismally low staffing levels in the county's fire department, among the worst in the country.

    Five of the 22 stations operated by Volusia County Fire Services are manned by one firefighter, says the report by Jeremiah Greathouse, vice president of the local firefighters union, which hopes to negotiate new staffing levels with the county.

    The ongoing shortage has fostered low morale among firefighters, as well as imposed inadequate levels of service on the thousands of residents who live in the areas where the one-man stations are located, the report claims.

    And although the county's remaining 17 stations -- with the exception of one -- have two firefighters per shift, that's still below the international union's standard that calls for a minimum of four, the report says.

    In fact, the only county fire station that meets the voluntary standards set by the International Association of Firefighters is the one inside the Daytona Beach International Airport. The Federal Aviation Administration requires four firefighters on duty inside an airport at all times.

    The low staffing levels -- which county leaders acknowledge and hope to remedy this summer during their budget talks -- also has become an obstacle to a proposed county ordinance that would compel firefighters all over Volusia, including its 16 cities, to respond to emergencies, regardless of boundaries. The plan is called "closest unit response."

    Municipal leaders say they are not enthusiastic about joining with the county on such a program because of its low staffing. All city fire departments in Volusia have at least three firefighters per shift.

    County fire services Chief Jim Tauber agrees staffing levels are low, but he disagrees with the report's claim that service to residents is suffering. Fixing the staffing problems will take money, Tauber says. If he could hire 60 additional firefighters in one year -- one firefighter per shift, per station -- it would cost the county more than $3 million.

    So far, the department has budgeted for only one-fifth of that with plans to hire 12 new firefighters this fall at a cost of about $500,000. While that's a start, it's still not enough to fix the department's staffing problem, International Association of Firefighters officials say.

    And while national fire statistics show at least two-thirds of the fire departments in the country are understaffed, none have sunk to the levels of Volusia's fire department where one and two-man stations are the norm, says George Burke, spokesman for the international association in Washington, D.C.

    "This is a severe staffing shortage," Burke says. "There are some departments across the country that have one-man stations but they are unusual and they are normally located in very rural areas."

    Greathouse, the local firefighters union official, says the county needs to hire at least 15 firefighters in order to convert its five, one-man stations -- located in highly populated areas -- into two-man operations. That would cost the county about $600,000, he says.

    The 27-year-old firefighter says he prepared the 14-page report earlier this year in response to newly-elected County Council members who wanted an update on staffing.

    County Council veteran Dwight Lewis says he was floored when he saw the report.

    "This is a critical area," Lewis says. "We need to have at least two people per shift. I realize that's the minimum, but it's something I want to fight for on the County Council."

    In his report, Greathouse says firefighters who work alone are emotionally and physically stressed because they have the same duties as a two or three-man station and they have no one to debrief with when they return from a call.

    Physical safety is an obvious concern, Greathouse says. The five, one-man fire houses are located in populated areas , including one off State Road 44 near New Smyrna Beach, and one off Interstate 4 in Lake Helen. The stations, according to county records, receive just as many calls as their two-man counterparts.

    While none of the firefighters who work alone would speak to the News-Journal for fear of reprisal, Greathouse says he has interviewed each of them. He said though the firefighters love their jobs, they are hoping for a partner at the fire station.

    The situation is not ideal, Chief Tauber admits, but it's better than it was in the mid-1990s when the department had just over 60 firefighters. He said there are currently 128 sworn personnel, but that includes the chief and other administrators who are not in the field.

    Tauber indicates there are "problems" in Greathouse's report, especially with claims about inadequate service to residents. Tauber pointed to statistics from his department showing no residents have died so far this year in residential fires, and one died last year. There were no people killed in vehicle fires last year and none so far this year.

    "When they talk about one-man stations, they'd have you think that the one firefighter rolls out on the call by himself," Tauber says. "But emergency vehicles respond as well, as do other fire stations. We also have volunteers."

    Burke of the international association says Tauber does not take into account that working alone hinders a firefighter's ability to do the job, regardless of other respondents who come to his or her aid.

    "This is very demoralizing," Burke says. "These people train for rapid response. When you're working alone, you have to wait for other firefighters to respond to help you."

    Volusia County spokesman Dave Byron says the staffing situation will be a topic at budget workshops this summer and the goal will be converting one-man stations into two-man fire houses.

    County Council Chairman Frank Bruno says the fire department's budget could be amended to include more firefighters than the 12 requested.

    Even though the county's staffing problem is nothing new, the issue has received plenty of attention in the past few weeks because of the proposed ordinance with area cities to have the closest fire station respond to emergency calls, regardless of city or county boundaries.

    Administrators and fire officials in most area cities say the idea of a closest unit-response agreement appeals to them. But they are willing to enter into such a pact only with other municipalities with comparable staffing. Otherwise, the cities could end up providing more assistance than they receive in aid from the county.

    "I am still worried about the staffing situation in the county," says New Smyrna Beach City Manager Frank Roberts.

    Port Orange City Manager Ken Parker says if the ordinance passes, his city would receive aid from two county fire stations that are understaffed -- one at the intersection of Tomoka Farms and Taylor roads that has two firefighters and the one off State Road 44 that has one.

    But using the county's low staffing levels as an excuse to avoid participating in the closest unit response program, is wrong, Tauber and Councilman Lewis say.

    "The idea is to save lives as quickly as possible," Tauber says.

    lyda.longa
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.


  2. #2
    Forum Member FiremedicMike's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Location
    Central Ohio, USA
    Posts
    373

    Default

    UCK, I would go crazy if i was stationed by myself. Of course, it could make my wife's visit a little more interesting!

    Thats just terrible

  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    1,098

    Default

    Couple questions for ya CaptStan,

    #1. What is the level of Volunteer Participation?
    #2. Are these Home Responders or "Duty Crews" who bunk in?

    The Local here did the same thing to increase staffing at several Firehouses where just one Career FF was assigned after 1500 Hrs.

    Our Career Staffing goes like this:

    Daywork Stations (0700-1700 Volunteers after 1700 and on weekends)
    Staffing= 1 OIC (Captain or Lt.) 1 Fire Technician (Driver) and 2 ERT's (FF/Pm) or 2 Firefighters.

    Shiftwork/Daywork: 1 OIC (Capt. or Lt.) 1 Technician (Driver.) The OIC and the Tech work 0700-1500 and the other 2 Firefighters work 0700-0700 on the 24 on/72 off, 4 platoon Schedule.

    Shift-only houses: 1 OIC, 1 Tech, 2 ERT's or 2 Firefighters. 0700-0700 on the 24on/72/off 4 platoon schedule.

    Now, back to the post. Prior to last July, alot of daywork/shift stations only had one firefighter assigned after 1500. This firefighter was primarily the Driver and the Volunteers filled the crew out after 1500Hrs. Stations (for those of you familiar with PG County) 13, 31, 25, 38, 46 and 43 only had one shift firefighter after 1500 hrs. The IAFF Local 1619 stated that these firefighters were not "safe" unless there was another Career firefighter stationed there with them. Let me remind you, most of these stations had few understaff or failure marks with the single career FF because the Volunteers participated and staffed the place after hours via home response or standing by at the station. Now how is a Career FF "Not Safe" with a Volunteer Crew, but is "safe" with another Career FF on the apparatus? Are the Vollies going to Bludgeon him to death with an Axe because he is on the Engine? Are they gonna give him a Wedgie and a Wet Willy? I don't understand it......Alot of the reasoning behind this was because an EMS Unit responded Driver Only with the career FF (Violating a Policy set forth by the VFD to wait for home Response) and ended up on a Cardiac Arrest alone....now he has to wait for additional units to come from Greater Distances and the Patient is Dead. If he had waited a minute for someone to show up (If they didn't show up, the outcome is still the same) a difference might have been made, but because the Union Locals members Disregard Station Policies set forth by the Management of the Stations they work in. someone is dead. So, This issue is a 2-way street.

  4. #4
    Forum Member MIKEYLIKESIT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Location
    Division 24
    Posts
    4,360

    Default

    Yo Tillerman... Where are Volunteers mentioned at all in the article that Stan posted? What does the problem in Florida have anything to do with P.G. County? Your deep disdain for the IAFF is well documented on thses boards. Thats fine. But just because you cant play nice in Maryland dosent mean that the Union is wrong for fighting against short-staffed firehouses. I am not attacking you, but I fail to see where the situation in Volusia County has anything in common with that in Prince Georges County Maryland.

  5. #5
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    6,413

    Post

    Volusia County is on the opposite coast from me. But my understanding is that there is little to no volunteer membership and they are not counted as staffing. The new requirements implemented by the state will make what volunteers they do have dwindle.

    Seems to me that some of their problem could be solved by re-allocating resources....

    Hmmmm....128 members......
    22 Stations
    5 stations with 1 person = 5
    16 stations with 2 people = 32
    1 station with 4 people = 4
    Total people in field = 41 (by my count unless I am missing something)

    That puts (by my calculations 87 people in Administration...Lets just say that there are 20 Administrative Assistants, Accountants, Secretaries.... That still leaves 67 people in the office. Take away the Chief, a Deputy Chief (do not know the structure there), a Training Chief, One Training Officer and 5 Fire Marshals.

    That leaves 58 people. Add in the 41 already in field and that comes to 99. A requirement for 4 at the airport leaves 95. That gives you 4.5 per station.

    They certainly need more people to help maintain that and in fairness I do not have any idea what the rank structure is there.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  6. #6
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Washington, DC USA
    Posts
    115

    Default

    Wow, what a recipe for disaster! There is no way that a system like this one can keep dodging bullets forever. My deepest sympathies go out to those guys.

    Stan, in your calculations you didn't include a staffing factor.
    (# of positions x # of shifts x calculation for time employees are not at work for vacation, sick leave, training, etc.). It looks like they can't do much more with the number of employees they have. They need to hire a boatload of people.

    The question that is nagging at me - Is Tauber, the Fire Chief, homegrown? If not, why in the world would he take a job with a situation like this? His protestations seem very weak.

    I guess 1000 gallon tanks and master streams are the order of the day.

  7. #7
    MembersZone Subscriber
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Clanton, Alabama
    Posts
    116

    Default

    I may have missed something but it sounds like they need to pass the buck onto the people they protect. It is not always the "best political decision" to raise taxes or whatever you have to do to charge for to pay for fire protection but when you start closing firehouses it gets the public's attention. When their insurance premium goes up for their house they notice. I know there are several factors that I am probably not aware of, but there has to be a solution to the problem and I am sure they will work it out. Would closing a couple of stations and relocating of personnel hurt response time? Just another point to consider. Like I said I don't know anything about this department. The article says they do not respond alone, they have mutual aid companies responding, why not combine the companies? I just don't see what a one man engine company can accomplish besides having the station manned for insurance purposes if they even meet that criteria. If I am not mistaken ISO requires 4 men per shift also. If I have something wrong someone please point it out, maybe they can get their issues worked out. Thanks for letting me rant. One more thing 41 personnel on shift x 3 shifts = 123 personnel, so I guess they have five administrative personnel.
    Matt Griffin
    Chief
    Eastern Chilton County Division of Fire, Rescue, and EMS, Station 91.

  8. #8
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    6,413

    Default oops....my bad....

    I was calculating it as if it was day work....

    I can not see how they do it now in 24/48 shifts. It just does not compute....
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  9. #9
    MembersZone Subscriber
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    1,098

    Default

    Sorry, the last part of my post must have gotten clipped for some reason.....


    I had also said that if there was no volunteer participation in this Department than by all means these Firefighters should be backed up with at least 2 more firefighters. I know it still does not constitute "2in-2out," but when you are alone as it is...2 more firefighters make the operation go a little more safely. It is criminal for a firefighter to be on an apparatus alone. Up this way, if a Fire Engine goes out "Driver-Only" it is usually placed in service unless it's the First Due company.

    MIKEY< sorry man, Didn't mean to stir you up, but at least I got a reaction out of you...it's been a while!

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts