1. #1
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    Post Spring Hill Fla--Fire Department gets Approval for More Staffing

    This is really trivial piece of information. However, due to the flap that went on for 6-10 months after last year's State IAFF Convention (which was recently held this year in the same place by the way ), as well as other controversies within this department in the past year, I thought appropriate to post this to show that the fire department was moving on. Despite the political hoop-la that was created by incoming and outgoing candidates for offices as well as canditates that ran for office and lost, this department continues to provide an excellent service to it's citizens.

    _________________
    Tampa Tribune---Hernando Today


    Money to move ahead
    LARA BRADBURN lbradburn@hernandotoday.com
    Published: Jun 11, 2003

    SPRING HILL - Spring Hill Fire Rescue's expansion plans got the green light Wednesday, based on the county's latest revenue projections for the coming year.
    Fire Chief J.J. Morrison's $9.1 million budget estimates that tax revenue will grow by about 7.8 percent in 2003-2004, or about $300,000 more than originally projected.
    Those numbers will allow the department to add an extra firefighter per shift at its second station by October. The first three-man expansion came June 1 after this year's budget surplus became known.
    The budget will be $9.1 million.
    "With the figures I just gave you, this is a balanced budget," Fire Chief J.J. Morrison said during the Fire Board's budget workshop.
    "Our call load is up," Morrison said. "Our community is growing. I think the district has displayed strong fiduciary responsibility and will continue to display that."
    Not every member of the board, however, supported the financial plan.
    Board member Darryl Hamilton criticized the budget for what he views as a lack of foresight. He took exception with the increasing labor costs, which he estimated to be 11 percent, and urged the board to be more prudent in its spending.
    "If you look at the last three years, we're budgeting much more now (percentage wise) per employee than we were before," Hamilton said. "This doesn't sound reassuring.
    "I think with this economy, we need to take another look at this or we might find ourselves in one hell of a fix," Hamilton said.
    The cost of labor is the department's largest expenditure. About 80 percent of the budget is dedicated to salary and benefits.
    The department is about to enter the third year of a three-year union contract, requiring an overall salary increase of 5.5 percent. The contract also features a seven-year step raise for veteran firefighters. Those are set costs, Morrison said.
    Additionally, the budget calls for a 16 percent increase in insurance costs.
    Morrison said the real issue is filling vacancies with qualified firefighter-paramedics. Most departments in Florida have vacancies because there just aren't enough to go around.
    Pasco County has 40 positions they can't fill, Morrison said. Hernando County has seven. "And Hillsborough County is not only paying more, they're getting more free days, food allowances and bonuses," said Morrison.
    Union President Capt. Mike Rampino said Hamilton's goals for reducing labor costs are unrealistic. Metropolitan departments are offering financial packages that communities such as Spring Hill cannot compete against, he said.
    "Paramedics have the pick of the litter as to where they want to work," Rampino said. "Outside of Hernando County, we're like $8,000 a year behind other departments that offer a lesser work week. So I can tell you, we're going to come in and ask for a pay increase next year."
    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
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    Post Letter to Editor

    Here is a letter to the Editor that appeared in the Hernando Section of the St. Petersburg Times in support of the initiative to provide more staffing...
    ________________
    Having proper staff on ambulances, fire engines is critical
    Letters to the Editor
    St. Petersburg Times
    published June 12, 2003


    Re: Spring Hill Fire and Rescue District increasing its manpower:

    Editor: This is a great idea and I hope the Fire Commission approves hiring more. And hopefully the chief will work toward pushing for more and giving the best protection available.

    My question is, how are you currently using your personnel? I have noticed that on the ALS (advanced life support) ambulances that generally an EMT and a paramedic are used on that unit. Why aren't there two paramedics on an ALS ambulance?

    I've also noticed that the district has ALS fire engines; that's a great idea, too. But why rely on a fire engine to bring another paramedic there, if needed? With two paramedics on the ambulance, you wouldn't have to wait for the best care to arrive. ALS engines are a great backup for when an ambulance is not available and that's what they should be used for.

    I also understand that EMTs are a great asset to a paramedic, but their level of training and education only allows them to work within their limited boundaries of state requirements. Paramedics can give cardiac drugs, administer IVs, and place breathing tubes - all critical lifesaving techniques which EMTs are not able to perform. What happens when you have two patients who need ALS care, and the engine is not available or on the way? Which patient gets the paramedic? Are they using their paramedics in this role?

    The engine is required to have one paramedic on it. Why is the standard the same for an ALS ambulance? New employees are required to become paramedics within a certain time of employment. If they are making that a requirement, then why are they not using two paramedics on an ambulance? If not, why even have the requirement? The public also pays for these employees to go school to become a paramedic.

    I think it is time we see two on every ambulance and keep one on the engine for backup. Spring Hill is falling behind with giving the best care available. Doesn't the fire district think its owes the public the best service available?
    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.

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