A little bit of background first.
We are a 100% career department. We have 15 stations, about 275, or so suppression personnel, and we protect both the city and the unincorporated areas in the county (671 sq, miles total area, around 300,000 population). We provide ALS/BLS medical services in conjunction with a county-run ambulance service, but we do not do any patient transport.
My department ran over 25,000 calls in 2006. We perform very aggressive interior fire attack, we are a regional Haz-Mat response provider and a regional USAR provider. Our department's extrication team has also won several world championship extrication competitions.
We have good equipment, we work hard and we train hard.
The problem is that our minimum staffing levels are 3 per engine, and 3 per truck. We have to do with 9-10 people on a first alarm scene, what some departments do with twice that many personnel on a first alarm assignment.
We are currently trying to have the city raise our minimum staffing levels to 4 per engine and 4 per truck. Our Chief is 100% behind us in this effort, but convincing the City Council that staffing needs to be increased is no easy task!
My station's crew and I have just completed the production of a short DVD presentation that our Chief will use in the budget request proceedings to show the dangers and the potential loss of civilian life that can occur as a result of improper staffing levels, both from a structure fire and from an auto accident scenario.
We are familiar with the NFPA's recommendations, as well as ISO's.
What we need from those of you who have been able to successfully increase your minimum staffing levels, is to know what/how you were able to do so. What was it that finally convinced the your city to fund 4 man crews?
Any help at all, be it statistics, documentation, case studies, or insight you can provide is most graciously appreciated.
Thanks so much!
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01-18-2007, 03:13 AM #1
Please help with minimum staffing...
Last edited by fireman4949; 01-18-2007 at 04:36 PM.
01-18-2007, 04:36 PM #2
01-18-2007, 05:09 PM #3
- Join Date
- Jan 2006
lets see.........2 in/2 out, 4 man RIT, 1 Engineer..............Command, back up, water supply........sounds a little too minimal. What's your SOP for second due response?
01-18-2007, 09:21 PM #4
In our current staffing situation, we do not have the necessary personnel to establish a RIT team with just a first alarm assignment. If a second alarm is struck, depending upon the type of structure involved, we will get an additional 6-9 personnel. Then, a dedicated RIT can be established.
On most SFD's and even some MFD's and smaller commercial structures, the B/C may opt to only add one additional engine. We generally don't strike a full second alarm unless it's truly a big fire.
As I stated above, many other departments are fortunate enough to put 15-20 sets of boots on the ground on a first alarm assignment. We're lucky to ever exceed 10.
We still kick *** when it comes to fighting fire! We just work our natural asses off doing it.
The safety of both the citizens and our Brothers is always our primary concern, as it obviously is everywhere else. Our Fire Chief is in total agreement that more personnel, as well as several more fire stations are desperately needed, and she is spear-heading the campaign to get the necessary budget increases from the city for both.
The problem is that our city commissioners act as though the money to run this wonderful city of theirs comes out of their very own pockets! The fire dept. just isn't as high of a priority with them as say, the police dept. is.
I, along with several others in the department, have been tasked with gathering any information we can find with regard to showing our city commissioners the necessity of 4 man crews, as opposed to 3 man crews. Also, we would like to know what the pivotal argument(s) was that finally swayed the vote of city officials elsewhere, in favor of more fire dept. staffing for their cities.
As a side note, by the Grace of God, we have not had a LODD in many, many years. Although we do operate many times without dedicated RIT teams in place, and we often work our crews to the point of exhaustion, we are still safety conscious, and do everything within our power to prevent injuries from occurring.
I have to say, I could not be any prouder to work along side such well trained, dedicated and hard working individuals. We just need to get some more of 'em!
01-19-2007, 08:42 AM #5A'int No Rocket Scientist's in The Firehall
01-19-2007, 09:47 AM #6
- Join Date
- Jan 2006
- Springfield, TN
01-22-2007, 11:17 AM #7
- Join Date
- Jun 2005
There was an article in Fire Engineering a few years back that did some basic task/time evaluations based on staffing of an engine/pumper. I'll try to find the article for you.
01-22-2007, 12:43 PM #8
- Join Date
- Jan 2004
- Mt. Vernon IL
The video on the implementation guide is a very good starting point to show the council. We've posted the video on our website, IaffLocal2429.org. We also have 1710 in there as well. If you have problems, contact the site moderator, he's a wiz at that website stuff. He's around these forums as well, as DJinferno.
01-22-2007, 10:31 PM #9
Have you looked into the Fire Op's 101 the International is using. This is a great program. Went to a train the trainer class in Atlanta before the ALTS Conference and met some guys from Orlando. I think they have been doing this for some time. Give your policy makers a taste of what it is like only using 3 men. Give them participation and not a presentation. On the International website there is a link to the Fire Ops site, check it out, and get a hold of the guys in Orlando.
01-26-2007, 11:52 AM #10
- Join Date
- Oct 2005
The one part of this that raises an eyebrow is that the "Chief is in total agreement"...
Yet your first alarm is still on the low side.
That (should) be within the Chief's authority to increase it to 16 personnel, or 16 + FAST or however you want to cut it. It's certainly not an unreasonable staffing level given the population (without doing the math, I'm not sure if the 8 minute goals of 1710 could be met, but it should be close in most of the area).
And then he can start hammering the City Council that to meet these staffing needs, coverage is being stripped and frequent move-ups are occuring.
It's going to be easier to get the concept of fire trucks not in a station through people's heads then firefighters not in a seat.
That's why I'm raising an eye-brow -- while he says he want's more manpower, he's not changing stuff that should be within his authority to increase the staffing on the fireground. There may be other metrics in place you're not seeing, like his bonus from the City Manager relies on having a unit on scene in XX minutes YY percent of the time.
01-26-2007, 01:45 PM #11
Actually, there is an increase in initial response being worked on by the brass right now. Very soon, we should have a new SOP on the number of units on initial dispatch, but I know we still won't be able to meet the basic manning needed on scene until we get four on a rig.
Thanks to all for the information...I have passed it all on up the chain. We'll see what transpires.
I absolutely agree that having the commissioners see (and experience) first hand the difficulties that improper staffing on the rigs causes being the best thing that could happen to influence their decisions. I'm just not too sure how much resistance they (the commissioners) would put up to actually participating in something like that.
How could the city possibly defend themselves if a legal issue arose with regard to a civilian injury or death that could be directly linked to inadequate staffing, if the commissioners were so well aware of the potential for the tragedy in the first place, and yet still did not increase staffing?
Either way, that's not my call to make...unfortunately, it's well above my pay grade!
Thanks again, and if anyone has any other insight, please fire away!
01-26-2007, 06:34 PM #12
- Join Date
- Oct 2005
The legal defense against negligence in a civilian death/injury is pretty easy.
Step 1: Prove it.
Step 2: There is no step 2, because Step 1 is simply an opinion.
You're not going to be able to re-create the situation using engineering or scientific calculations to show the inadequacy of something in that situation (unlike failures in apparatus design, PPE performance, etc).
The other standard, "Reasonable Man" is going to have troubles since FDs have been running 3 men companies for decades, and most FDs in the nation continue to run 3 men.
I'd much rather explore the legal theory if the Department SOPs dictate or encourage "over reaching" by the Firefighters. If the Department hasn't matched their SOPs to meet their staffing, you may have some more interesting arguments to make.
01-26-2007, 06:39 PM #13
- Join Date
- Dec 2002
- Central NJ
A grim prospect, but probably worth noting. Check NIOSH FF fatality reports.
I hear ya on this, only on a smaller scale (combination small town department). Our engine runs with 2 and we get the balance of our career staff from the on duty EMS crew and fire inspectors (all cross trained fire/EMS). We puch in hard and fast and hope to knock it before it escalates to a larger fire.
01-26-2007, 10:01 PM #14
I have no problem whatsoever with my department's policies and procedures. My problem is with the what I see as a general lack of concern by the city's officials with providing the necessary funding for the FD to operate both more effectively, and with greater safety both for our personnel, and for that of the public.
They want us to be the very best, but to this point, they simply want us to do it only with the resources we already have.
Hopefully, with our relatively new department administration (with which we have already made leaps and bounds beyond that of our previous leaders) also being in favor of increased staffing as well as the addition of several new fire stations, we will be able to make some significant progress with the city commissioners in the not-to-distant future.
I am hopeful, and I am anxious to see what will happen, but I am still somewhat concerned that our budget increase requests may fall on deaf ears.
(addendum) I want to clarify something that I feel may possibly be misconstrued by some...I don't believe, nor do I want to imply that our city officials are callous, or are unconcerned about the safety of our citizens. I know that the safety of the public is a big issue with them, as our city's police department budget and staffing will attest to. They see and respond in kind to the need for adequate numbers of law enforcement personnel.
Our aim is simply to educate them as to the real need we have for more (an adequate number) FD personnel on any given incident. I believe that they are currently operating under the illusion that our current FD staffing is adequate to successfully mitigate virtually any incident that may arise. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
Last edited by fireman4949; 01-26-2007 at 11:33 PM.
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