1. #1
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    Default Average Age - Who do I believe?

    I e-mailed the help desk and my district FEMA rep with the same question: What do we include when calculating the answer to the question about average fleet age? Do we include ambulances or not?

    The district guy replied that we should only include the fire vehicles in the calculation.

    The next day, the help desk replied that we should include everything, with ambulances in the "other" category.

    NOW WHAT DO WE DO?

    I originally asked the question because of a basic fairness issue. For the sake of the discussion, assume that two departments apply for a pumper, and they are similar in every way except that one provides EMS and the other doesn't. Assuming that the department with EMS includes ambulances in their average fleet age calculation, would that not harm them statistically, given that ambulances are normally used more frequently, have a shorter life span and are replaced more frequently compared to pumpers? Wouldn't that artifically lower their average fleet age, and also their chance of scoring high enough to get past the computer to peer review?

    Any advice would be appreciated!

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    Update:

    The district guy e-mailed back and told me to disregard his earlier advice and go with the help desk.

    The good news is that our ambulances aren't exactly new either, and it only knocked us down 1 notch, from the 20+ to the 15-19 years old category. Hopefully that won't make too much of a statistical difference. Still, it doesn't seem exactly fair for us departments that offer EMS to get penalized for it.

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    Default Computor will not help us.

    My department in a similar sistuation having an apparauts that won't help us much in terms of average age of apparatus. We use a chiefs vehicle which is only 3 years old. This is a very low cost unit compared to other apparauts which we use. We also have a 7 seven year old engine, a 23 year old engine, and 29 year old engine, and a 31 year old tower-ladder. We also have a used "bread truck" style van which we put ins evice as an air cascade vehicle back in 1990. The van is acutallly what we would like to replace, as it is now over it's GVW since adding a full enclosure fragmentation shield a few years ago. The unit was not intended for fire service use. We know it's only been in service as a fire apparauts for 16 years, but it's shot. We had a couple mior electrical fires under the dash through the years.

    Our comunity is a small urban town, so we would like to replace the vair van with a mid sized rescue truck. We are just hoping htat the three year old chiefs vehicle and only replacing a 16 yrear old truck will not knock us out of the computor round. We would love to apply for a tower ladder replacement, but we don't have that many tall buildings and a new tower wouldn't fit in our station anyway.

    I personally think the overall building height needs to be revisited. We all know the dangers of operating on lightweight wood truss roofs, and the value of being able to take people from a couple different windows without resetting the truck. We have a lot of garden apartments, rowhouses, and some old 4 story factories that were converted into 50 to 100 unit apartmetn buildings inthe 70's and early 80's (pre-sprinkler mandates). We also have some townhouses, victorian homes chopped into 3 to 8 unit unsprinklered apartment buildings, and new single family homes with wood truss roofs, as well as an old business district. We frequently respond mutual aid to very alrge single family dwelling fires with wod truss roofs. Most of the factories still operating are sprinklered. I just think there is more to it than the number buildings in our town over 5 stories. In many cases all of these 5 story plus buildings are fully sprinklered.

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    ^^BUMP^^

    This is a good discussion, and I'd like to see some other peoples opinions.

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    Good bump, I don't ever remember seeing it, but with over 200 apps worked this year I didn't get to hang out here that often in March. Anywho...

    First part, average age: For those that did not apply for vehicles this year they changed the Vehicle specific portion of the application. They asked for the average age of the fleet, as well as the oldest and newest vehicle in the class that you were applying for. In addition, all years were listed in the Apparatus section under Department Characteristics. So the answer to the fleet age is really just a lazy way to get a value that they could have calulated anyway based on the info in the other section. Can't say I blame them, I'm lazy like that sometimes too, I have a Y chromosome. Can't help genetics.

    If the request is for a suppression or rescue vehicle, I can't see too entirely much balancing on the EMS and Chief's vehicles. Having 1 new Chief's car won't kill a pumper app. Having 7 chief's cars newer than the newest pumper, yeah we might have an issue there. And depending on call volume, having newer ambulances won't hurt on a pumper app that badly either. More EMS runs means more wear and tear, so as long as you explain in the narrative also that it takes more money to keep the EMS vehicles on the road which is why you can't afford to update the pumper, then no one should be taking an issue with it. I also don't see the minor age change from 15-19 from 20+ to be a camel breaker either. No single statistic will make or break your application in the computer. Most reviewers only read the narrative, so as long as you sold a good game there it will depend on how everyone else sold their situation. AS I keep telling everyone, don't get hung up on one stat, they only mean something when two departments are identical in every way on every line of the application. Since that won't happen, don't fret over one or two numbers. It's the big picture and how you can sell that. If it doesn't come easy, wrong project.

    On Tender's comments about building height: national standards point to building height as a primary reason for having aerial devices. Within that also lies water flow requirements from NFPA and ISO, so over a certain square footage you end up with the need for an aerial master stream also. But since the primary reason is tall buildings, they have to follow the national standards otherwise the whole system goes to pot. As a truckie myself I know ladders belong on every structure call since truck company isn't just about the big thing on top of the truck, it's about the truckie ops. But from a paper-pushing point of view, it's tall buildings. So those with more tall buildings will have more of a need than those that don't.

    Plus more tall buildings indicates a growing area in many cases, so that also increases population density and the need for aerial devices from growth.

    - Brian

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    That is partly true about buildings over 5 stories high showing growth. What happens, however, when you have the growth, but your township ordinances limit building highth to 4 stories?

    Then the need is not being properly judged by the standards set out.

    Point is--there are always other criteria to consider and I believe that the ladies and gentlemen asking these questions at FEMA should get some education from the"professionals".

    There are a number of areas throughout the entire grant question section that need revampling. We work through them and we do the best we can, but some of the information is just off base.

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    That is partly true about buildings over 5 stories high showing growth. What happens, however, when you have the growth, but your township ordinances limit building highth to 4 stories?

    Then the need is not being properly judged by the standards set out.
    Sure it is. Aerials are still primarly need for mitigation of fires in tall buildings. That's how the first ladder trucks came about. Your area doesn't have anything over 4 stories, so it needs an aerial less than someone with 5+ story buildings, but more than someone with only 3 story buildings. Your area and it's limitation on building height is lessening the fire risk by zoning laws, so less need for the equipment in question. That's how the standards are applied uniformly. It doesn't mean you don't need one at all, you just need it less than others. These programs are all relative.

    And there are a lot of professional that are consulted when creating the program guidelines. Several of the names involved are found listed on the main page of Firehouse.com every week. This program has never been designed by bureaucrats that know nothing about the fire service. It has been designed by the fire service for the fire service from the beginning. There are departments that fit the exceptions, but for the most part, the guidelines are right on.

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    leatherhead, Brian is dead-on right about the Fire Act Grants. The rules for program guidance are intensely discussed and debated prior to implementation by a number of Professional Fire Orgaizations ie; IAFF, IAFC etc. hence the minor changes you see in PG form year to year closing loopholes or expanding in areas at times. The Firefighters input about "real world "situations is probably more prevalent in this program than in any other Federal grant program out there. Boy, I wish there was more consultation taking place with on the street cops before they put out the PGs on their grants. By comparison, the fire service is light years ahead of that particular game with the Fire Act grants.
    Kurt Bradley
    Fire/EMS/EMA Grant Consultant
    " Never Trade Skill for Luck"

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    Brian & Kurt--I stand corrected on the point about the grant program. I guess in hind site the guidelines fit real well and for the most part so do most of the questions. A bit of frustration coming out. Not deserved.

    The last thing I want to do is debate the grant programs with either of you two. I too, rely on your comments in these forums. I rarely comment but I certainly read.

    Incidently, our department has had success in the programs, so I don't want to be too critical of them either. The programs have helped to bring our equipment and training current (relative).

    Thanks for your valued contributions.

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    Anytime. Debate is what we're here for. None of us should go through life with one perspective, we should always be looking to improve things as long as they make sense. Several improvements to the program have come from outside suggestions as well as DHS folks hanging around here and reading what we're saying. Like the goal to have all awards out before February. We came closer last year, and maybe they'll hit the Dec 31st "deadline" this year. They're frustrated over not being able to make progress this year also, but being a bureaucratic entity there's not much the people that work there can do to speed things up.

    Even awarded folks have things they'd like to see change. Perfection doesn't exist down here on earth, but improvements have to have a solid basis in order to get closer to perfect. Discuss things long enough here, we may find one.

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    leatherhead, it is difficult at times to make an objective assessment of a program without "experiencing" what the other programs are like. Obviously, your experience is mostly with the Fire Act Grants and as such, you would have had nothing with which to compare it to, so your misconception of the program is understandable.

    I can assure you that I , and I am sure I speak for Brian and Alana as well, are here to help all of you in dispelling misconceptions and rumors and in achieving success at accessing these programs.

    Of course you should also bear in mind that criticism of the program, when properly deserved, is also the "change vehicle" by which the PG is tweaked and hopefully the playing fields are made more level for all of us to play on.
    Kurt Bradley
    Fire/EMS/EMA Grant Consultant
    " Never Trade Skill for Luck"

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    Quote Originally Posted by tender83
    My department in a similar sistuation having an apparauts that won't help us much in terms of average age of apparatus. We use a chiefs vehicle which is only 3 years old. This is a very low cost unit compared to other apparauts which we use. We also have a 7 seven year old engine, a 23 year old engine, and 29 year old engine, and a 31 year old tower-ladder. We also have a used "bread truck" style van which we put ins evice as an air cascade vehicle back in 1990. The van is acutallly what we would like to replace, as it is now over it's GVW since adding a full enclosure fragmentation shield a few years ago. The unit was not intended for fire service use. We know it's only been in service as a fire apparauts for 16 years, but it's shot. We had a couple mior electrical fires under the dash through the years.

    Our comunity is a small urban town, so we would like to replace the vair van with a mid sized rescue truck. We are just hoping htat the three year old chiefs vehicle and only replacing a 16 yrear old truck will not knock us out of the computor round. We would love to apply for a tower ladder replacement, but we don't have that many tall buildings and a new tower wouldn't fit in our station anyway.
    ...
    At the risk of just sounding snotty. A FD that is short of needed equipment/resources is spending $ on a taxi for the chief? He can't drive his POV like most chiefs in the US? Perks and toys are for organizations (gov't or private) that have cash they can find nowhere useful to profitably invest it.

    You need a utility vehicle (and perhaps is also used for chiefs donut run) get a pickup/Suburban/Van thru FEPP (your state forester). Right now such would typically be late 80-early 90s diesel auto <75000mi beer budget gov't vehicle. Cost to you is going to get it. If you're big enough, but still poor, that you need a mobile IC-post spend $10K on a trailer that will have a 20yr life.

    Solves the problem. Put the cash in the support vehicle you need. Save your vehicle grant for a big project. For that matter, you can get a replacement support truck thru FEPP.
    Last edited by neiowa; 07-18-2006 at 11:25 AM.

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