FIREFIREFIRE


CLICK HERE TO RETURN TO THE MOST CURRENT INFORMATIONAL PAGE

THIS PAGE AND THE PAGE ON THE LINK BELOW ARE ORIGINAL POSTINGS FROM 2009

CLICK HERE TO GO TO AN ADDITIONAL INFORMATION PAGE (2009 page 2)
There is a lot of good information on the linked page. It contains informational updates that were made periodically from throughout 2009 relevant to Ormond Beach Fire Department staffing and service delivery.

Thanks to all who stood up and supported your public service employees at the town hall meetings!

The green dots clearly indicated that you do not want your
Fire Services cut.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE FINAL SUMMARY OF THE MEETINGS

There is a typo on the document under the zone 3 section. The colors should be RED YELLOW GREEN respectively, not red green blue.
RED indicated that cuts were okay. YELLOW indicated cuts might be considered. GREEN indicated cuts would not be acceptable.

All of the public service employees of Ormond Beach strive to provide the citizens with the best service possible. It is not easy with the staffing changes and cuts that have already been made. We all appreciate your support.


EVERYTHING BELOW THIS POINT WAS THE ORIGINAL POSTING REGARDING THE CUTS IN SERVICE SUFFERED AS A RESULT OF REMOVAL OF LADDER 93 FROM SERVICE IN DECEMBER OF 2008...

ORMOND BEACH FIRE/EMS SERVICES HAVE BEEN CUT

What can I do to help?

 

Original post January 2009

LADDER 93 HAS BEEN REMOVED FROM SERVICE

On December 12th 2008 Ormond Beach Fire Administration sent out notification that Ladder 93 was to be taken out of service immediately. The decision came without any input from Ormond Beach citizens or firefighters.

Ladder 93 was one of five front line emergency response vehicles. Removing it from service equates to a 20% reduction in FIRE/EMS (Emergency Medical Services) responding units. It was an ALS (Advanced Life Support) capable unit, meaning it was equipped and licensed to provide the same level of medical care that an ambulance service, or any other EMS service provider can give. It was dispatched to over eight hundred calls in 2008, more than two hundred of which were EMS calls where it was the primary response vehicle. These numbers cannot be ignored. Taking this unit out of service will continue to have a negative impact on the level of service provided by the Ormond Beach Fire Department.

The resultant reduction of services will not be recognized by you, the citizens of Ormond Beach, until you need emergency services (911). Wouldn't you expect to be informed of something as important as a decrease in the level of emergency services being provided to you and paid for with your tax dollars? No one thinks about emergency services until they need care themselves, and no one ever thinks they are going to need that care (it won't happen to me), yet every day someone does. When they do, they expect immediate response and the best care available. If this is what you expect then you have to ensure that your fire departments level of service is maintained.
If you ignore your emergency services they will go away.
Don't allow diminished services to delay the care you need in your time of emergency.

What can I do to help restore the level of service provided prior to this change?

What causes this delay in response?

Why was Ladder 93 taken out of service?

How is City Leadership proposing to implement and fund this change?

Why the decision to change to the Quint concept?

What is the difference between a Ladder Truck and a Quint?

I am not sure I understand how my fire department works.

 

What can I do to help restore the level of service provided prior to this change?

You as a citizen are the voice of the city. The Commissioners are elected by you to serve your interests.
You can contact your Commissioners by e-mail or telephone. Links are provided below. The best way to ensure your voice is heard is to attend a Commission Meeting. Any citizen of Ormond can speak for up to three minutes during the "Audience Remarks" session at the beginning of the meetings. All you have to do is arrive early enough to fill out a card (located on a table at the entrance to the chambers) and present it the City Clerk (she sits to the far left of the room) before the start of the meeting. The meetings are held the first and third Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. in the Commission Chambers at City Hall, 22 S. Beach Street. You do not have to elaborate on any specific items, all you have to do is state that you do not accept the reduction of service resulting from the removal of Ladder 93 from service and would like to see it returned to its former level of service. The Commission needs to hear it from you, or they will continue down the path of diminishing services, and you will pay the price.

Click here for additional information on speaking at a commission meeting

Click here to contact your Commissioner and Mayor

Click here to find the Commissioner for your zone

Click here for a printable copy of a summary of this page

Click here to view our mailer

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What causes this delay in response?

When you call 911 it may take up to twice as long (and possibly longer) for an emergency vehicle to arrive at your location.

This delay happens as a result of the first due unit in your district being obligated to a prior call when your call comes in. It is not uncommon for there to be several calls in one district simultaneously. In that situation the next closest unit responds to your emergency. Should that unit be obligated to a prior call then the next closest unit responds, and so on. Having Ladder 93 available and staffed provided an additional unit that responded to your emergency and enabled the first due unit in another district to remain in its district for coverage. Without the Ladder when two or more calls come simultaneously to one district, the next closest district is stripped of its coverage. So not only does it take longer for an emergency vehicle to arrive at the second call in the first district, it also takes longer for another unit to respond to the call in the second district, because its first due unit is now in the first district responding to the second call in that district. This sounds very confusing, but the point is clear: less units responding means reduced service and increased response times. The negative impacts of having one less response vehicle at a centrally located station are significant.

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Why was Ladder 93 taken out of service?

An ISO (Insurance Services Office) audit of Ormond Beach Fire Department was conducted in the August of 2008. According to the information received from Administration, ISO stated they would be increasing Ormond Beach's insurance rating (which in turn increases insurance rates to home and business owners) unless the following changes were made:
Station 94 would have to be staffed with four firefighters instead of three, and
Ladder 93 would have to be relocated to Station 92.

The issues and the original solutions

ISO's issue with station 94 is its location. It is more than five road miles from any other Ormond Beach station. As a result, ISO would require a minimum of four people to be assigned there, due to the lengthy response of additional units to fires in that district.
The staffing change for Station 94 was originally going to be accomplished by moving the Battalion Commanders (Battalion Commanders are the on-shift supervisors of the department. They respond to major incidents and fires.) from Station 92 to Station 94. The Battalion Commanders would then only have to respond (in the same vehicle they always use) to fire calls along with Rescue Engine 94. This would have been accepted by ISO as an adequate solution to their stated issue. This change would have had a minimal impact to the day to day duties of the Battalion Commanders and seemed to be an easy, inexpensive solution. Some changes would have to be made to the station to accommodate the Battalions for sleeping quarters and office space but there were already plans made to implement this change.

ISO's issue with Ladder 93 was merely its location. They require it to be housed at Station 92, so it would be more centrally located.
This may actually have resulted in improved response times, as Station 92 is the busiest station in the city, therefore more apt to require the response of Ladder 93 for coverage of simultaneous calls in district 92. The problem with moving Ladder 93 to Station 92 is that it will not fit in the bays. The solution to this problem is simply to move a non-loadbearing wall of the weight room back far enough to accommodate Ladder 93. The cost estimates to complete this task were less than $10,000.

Implementing these changes would have an initial cost of less than (probably significantly less than) $20,000. There would have been absolutely no negative impact to service delivery.

The unsavory alternative

The alternative that was chosen by City Leadership is what is known as the "Quint Concept". This is a highly debated concept that has been accepted by ISO as an alternative to operating a true Ladder Truck. Small departments, such as ours, have historically implemented this concept as a means to reduce staffing and maintain their ISO ratings, with no regard for maintaining service levels. While negative service level impacts may not be high when this concept is utilized in large departments that can afford to run all Quints, it should be noted that these units are usually run in conjunction with rescue units (ambulances). This means that they have more units responding per station (district) than one. Our department can't afford to run multiple units out of every station or run all Quints (Quints cost from $550,000 to $750,000), so it is arguable that this concept is not the best choice for our department. Under the Quint concept at least half of our first response units would have to be Quints. We already have one Quint in service, so we would be required to purchase a second. These two units would count as the equivalent of one ladder truck for ISO rating purposes. For that credit to be applied, both Quints would have to respond to all structure fires regardless of the district the fire is in. This means where we previously responded to structure fires with three engines (considering the Quint we already have as an engine) and one ladder truck, leaving one of our own units available to cover our city, situations could now arise requiring the response of all four of our units (four is all we would have) on the first alarm, leaving no coverage for our city. If the outside agencies that we rely on to cover in these situations are busy, our city will have very extensive waits for emergency response. We should not have to rely so heavily on outside agencies for protection of our city.

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How is City Leadership proposing to implement and fund this change?

This years budget includes funds to replace one of our front line fire engines. The budgeted amount set aside for this is $325,000. This amount will buy a state of the art, completely equipped (all hoses, nozzles, tools, fans, etc...), ready-to-run fire engine. What is currently proposed is for that allowance to be put toward the cost of a second Quint. Our department apparatus committee was instructed to obtain quotes for a Quint apparatus. The recommendation of the committee was for a unit that came with no equipment (tools, hose, etc...) at a cost of $591,046. The Ladder would be accepted as a trade-in to the manufacturer of the Quint recommended by the committee at a value of $208,000. This amount added with the previously budgeted $325,000 still leaves a shortfall of $58,046 that the city would have to fund. The Ladder was purchased in 2002 for more than $500,000. That means the department would be taking a loss of approximately $300,000 for a unit that is very much capable of remaining in service for another seven to ten years.

Less service at an initial expense to the city of $58,046 (plus the loss of a $500,000 apparatus) or continuing the same level of service already having been provided over the last several years for less than $20,000. What do you consider the better deal?

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Why the decision to change to the Quint concept?

That question can only be answered by City Leadership. Our assumption is that it would provide a means for the city to reduce fire department staffing without a decrease in ISO rating. They finally brought the topic of lay-offs to light at the January 20th Commission Meeting. They also discussed the possibility of a buy-out or a combination of both. They specifically stated that they did not want to replace any positions vacated as a result of any buy-out. A reduction in staffing on top of the reduction in response units would be detrimental to the service provided to the city. We as firefighters see the impacts of changes that have already been made every shift, and fear the impacts of decreased staffing levels. Staffing levels are addressed on the right side of this page.

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What is the difference between a Ladder Truck and a Quint?

As it applies to our department, Ladder 93 is a 105' aerial Ladder with a permanent piped waterway, equipped with a full compliment of ground Ladders, extrication tools (jaws of life), exhaust and ventilation fans, salvage covers, forcible entry tools, large assortment of hand and power tools for entry and ventilation, cribbing, rope rescue equipment, and EMS equipment. It does not have a pump, but is capable of flowing very large volumes of water when connected to a fire engine. The increase in storage space gained from not having a pump allows the Ladder to carry additional specialty equipment for fighting fire, affecting rescue, and performing stabilization and extrication on motor vehicle accidents. It has a generator and several lighting options for scene lighting.

Our current Quint carries some of the same equipment as the Ladder, as do our engines, however it has significantly less storage area. It has a 75' aerial Ladder with a permanent piped waterway and a pump. It is capable of flowing very large volumes of water without the need to be connected to an engine. It also has a generator and a significant amount of scene lighting.

The problem with the Quints is how they are required to be equipped by ISO. For ISO to give credit to the department for a Ladder, two Quints must be utilized (in our situation) and each must carry half of the equipment previously carried on the Ladder. One Quint must operate as a Ladder on the fireground, and the other must operate a an engine. This creates confusion in determining what your job duties will be upon arrival to the fire. ISO also recommends four to six personnel be assigned to a Quint.

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I am not sure I understand how my fire department works.

In order to truly understand the impact of this reduction you must understand how Ormond Beach FIRE/EMS services work.

Ormond Beach has four fire stations. One in each of four response zones called districts (91, 92, 93, and 94). Each station has one front line response unit and other units that are task specific (brush trucks for wildland firefighting, a tanker for water supply in non-hydranted areas, a marine unit for water rescue, a squad for large incidents that require extended scene times and/or additional equipment, and two back-up engines). Additionally there were two first response units at station 93 (Rescue-Engine 93 and Ladder 93). As stated before, all of Ormond's first response units (fire trucks) are ALS licensed, staffed, and equipped. They are currently staffed with a minimum of three personnel, with the exception of Ladder 93 which carried a minimum staffing of two personnel. Each unit has at least one Paramedic, and all personnel are trained as EMT's.

When you dial 911 your call goes to a dispatch center. They in turn dispatch the appropriate FIRE/EMS/POLICE response vehicles.

If your emergency is medical in nature the dispatchers will send an Ormond Beach fire truck and an ambulance. Volusia County has a private transport agency (ambulance service) that operates independently of any fire department. Like Ormond fire units, they provide both ALS (Advanced Life Support) and BLS (Basic Life Support) services. They are the only agency in Volusia County that transports patients to hospitals. When a medically related emergency call comes in, the first due fire truck and an ambulance are dispatched. If either of these two units dispatched is delayed this redundancy becomes crucial. The majority of the time our fire trucks arrive before the ambulance. This is a result of the stations being placed to facilitate fast response times. The private ambulance service stages its ambulances in strategic locations across the county. It is unusual for there to be more than two ambulances staged in Ormond at one time. Sometimes there may only be one in service due to others being obligated to prior calls. When the fire department arrives we provide the same level of care that the ambulance service provides until they arrive and care is transferred to them for transport to the hospital.

If your emergency is fire related, the appropriate assignment of fire trucks respond depending on whether it is a structure fire, vehicle fire, brush fire, etc... For a residential structure fire, first alarm response previously included Ladder 93 and three of our four engines, leaving one of our engines available for coverage of the city. Under the Quint concept we would either be dispatching all four of our front line engines, relying on outside agencies to cover our city, or having the outside agencies respond on the first alarm. Depending on the location of the fire we do rely on outside agencies for response if their unit is closer than one of ours and is available. This reliance on outside agencies has been increased with the change to the Quint concept, primarily because we have one less unit available for response (a 20% reduction in responding units).

There is an agreement between our department, Volusia County, Holly Hill, and other agencies to provide closest unit response. If this sharing of resources becomes one sided (we use them more than they use us) by a margin of more than twenty five calls, we could begin to incur expenses to the tune of $900 per call. Having one less response vehicle in our city is sure to increase our dependency on outside agencies.

If your emergency is a motor vehicle accident, a single unit or multiple units may respond depending on the location, severity, number and type of vehicles involved. Sometimes even single vehicle accidents require more than one fire apparatus. Motor vehicle accidents can require specialty equipment that was formerly carried on Ladder 93. Motor vehicle accidents often require coordinated efforts of multiple resources for mitigation of the incident.

Your fire department has become the catch-all safety organization for most emergency situations, front line defense and homeland security. We are tasked with responding to hazardous materials incidents, medical emergencies, motor vehicle accidents, bomb threats, assaults, fires, aircraft emergencies, train wrecks, water rescue, rope rescue, confined space rescue, fuel spills, gas leaks, painting and flow testing of hydrants, conducting inspections, and providing public education and safety awareness. Oh yeah, we still have to clean the toilets, mop the floors, take out the trash, vacuum, wash the dishes, do paperwork, complete monthly training, wash the trucks, clean the bay floors, check out the equipment, decontaminate our medical equipment, maintain our supply inventories, wash our uniforms, shine our boots, and smile when people say we are over paid and under utilized.

Obviously there are a lot more incident types, and specifics that were not covered here. Hopefully enough information has been given for you to make an informed decision regarding the level of services you would like to receive as a citizen of Ormond Beach. If you have any questions or comments please click the following link to send us an email. info@iaff3499.com

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Original post January 2009

CITY LEADERS LOOK TO CUT FIRE DEPARTMENT STAFFING

City Leaders finally brought the topic of lay-offs to light at the January 20th Commission Meeting. They also discussed the possibility of a buy-out or a combination of both. They specifically stated that they did not want to replace any positions vacated as a result of any buy-out. A reduction in staffing on top of the already imposed reduction in response units would be detrimental to the level of service provided to the city. We as firefighters see the impacts of changes that have already been made every shift, and fear the impacts of decreased staffing levels.

Decreased staffing causes delays of fire suppression activities as a result of having to wait for additional units to respond to accumulate enough personnel to safely conduct fireground operations.

Extensive data and experience gained over more than one hundred years of fighting fire provides the same information: insufficient staffing levels increases the time it takes to extinguish fire and conduct search and rescue operations, leads to quickly fatigued personnel, increases the risk of injuries, and decreases the efficiency and effectiveness of all emergency operations.

There have been surveys conducted by independent organizations, one of which stated that Ormond Beach Fire Department should have four personnel assigned to each of its units including the Ladder for effective and efficient operations. That would be a total of twenty personnel on shift. Four personnel on five apparatus. This mirrors the standard set forth in NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) 1710. This nationally recognized standard states that to conduct safe and effective fireground operations fourteen to seventeen personnel must be on the first alarm assignment for a residential structure fire. Ormond Beach Fire Department currently falls into the low end of this standard by having fourteen personnel on our first alarm assignment. We are already operating at the minimum standard for staffing levels, and now our City Leaders want to reduce our staffing even further. They are discussing eliminating up to six positions. That would be two positions per shift. That would put our first alarm assignment at as low as 12 personnel. In order to meet the NFPA standard one additional unit would have to be added. This unit would have to come from the closest outside agency. As a result of pulling that additional unit out for the fire, now not only would our entire city be stripped of its response units, the next closest unit that would normally cover our city would be on our fire. We would then be relying on the second closest unit to come to cover our city. Who will cover their districts during these times? How long will it take for them to respond? Who will suffer the most? The citizens of Ormond Beach.

As you can see the impacts of reduced staffing are huge on fires. It is also significant on motor vehicle accidents, as they often require many resources and personnel to operate effectively. On medical calls our staffing is barely adequate. Our department cannot absorb the increased work loads and stresses brought on by reductions in staff.

Below are some links to information that was submitted to the Commissioners of Ormond by former Fire Chief Baker and your firefighters. This information was gathered and submitted as a result of fear of staffing cuts when, in 2007, the Commission requested worst case scenario budget reduction options for each department within the city. Those worst case scenario budget reductions for the fire department included laying off nine firefighters. It should be noted that some municipalities have been held liable for injuries and deaths resulting from fire departments knowingly operating below the nationally recognized standards for staffing on fires.

Also note that the Fire Department in 2007 and 2008 accomplished savings to the city of more than $800,000 annually; well more than any other department. Isn't it time the City finds somewhere else to cut its budget that doesn't impact your safety?

IAFF 3499 Staffing Literature April 2008

Fire Department Staffing Analysis May and March 2008

NFPA 1710 FACT SHEET

NFPA 1710 Q&A

If you have any questions or comments please click the following link to send us an email. info@iaff3499.com

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