11/12/07 46 W - + 10 - 14 Wake County Fire Commission Meeting, Thursday, 11/15

The next Wake County Fire Commission meeting is scheduled for this Thursday, November 15, at 7:00 PM, at the Wake EMS Training Facility, located in the lower level of the Wake County Commons Building on Carya Drive near I-440 and Poole Road.

Will you be publishing the minutes and agenda?
fcmt - 11/12/07 - 12:00

I will post the agenda, if it is made available ahead of the meeting. I do not record minutes, but occasionally post personal observations. Official minutes are posted on the County site: http://www.wakegov.com/emergency/fire/co...
Legeros - 11/12/07 - 20:42

I was looking at the fire commison website and the minutes have not been published on there for sometime, are they required to publish the minutes somewhere or how does that work?
online - 11/13/07 - 11:00

Those meetings were kept secret
not online - 11/13/07 - 11:13

not suprised…
online - 11/13/07 - 15:40

I’ll miss your rendition of the proceedings. Maybe I will venture over there myself. Never know what old friends I may run into. How welcome are non-affiliated folks in these meetings? Is there a sign-up sheet or anything?
Concerned Taxpayer - 11/13/07 - 18:54

WCFC meetings are typically attended by a dozen or two chief officers and personnel, plus WC Fire-Rescue staff. The WC PS director usually attends. Citizens, such as myself, attend in smaller numbers. Just a handful if that. They are certainly welcome. There is a sign-up sheet passed around, as well.
Legeros - 11/13/07 - 19:29

The agenda:

1. Call meeting to order
Roll of members present
Approval of Agenda

2. Minutes
Adoption of Minutes for September 20, 2007, Regular Meeting

3. Introduction of New Budget and Management Analyst Assigned to Fire Tax District

4. Regular Agenda
County Interest in New or Substantially-Renovated Fire Stations
Staffing Committee Recommendation
Staffing Improvement Plan
Facility Committee
a. Dormitory Study
b. Long Range Facility Plan
CAD/800 MHZ Committee Recommendation – Standardized Radio Identification System
Cary Fire Department Contract for Cary Suburban Fire District

5. Information Agenda
Chair Report
Fire/Rescue Services Director Report

6. Other Business

7. Public Comments
30 minutes maximum time allotted, Maximum 3 minutes per person

8. Adjournment
Legeros - 11/14/07 - 19:30

Fire Commission Meeting minutes on the County’s website have been updated, to include the last meeting. We finally worked out some site issues and, hopefully, we’ll be able to keep the minutes posted in a timely manner. It’s a work in progress, possibly to include audio in the future.
Chris (Email) - 11/15/07 - 16:39

Some select summations from the meeting, as recorded both by myself and from the notes of others:

The commission approved a plan from the Staffing Committee that will staff four full-time FFs per fire department for the first year of the program, and will expand to four full-time FFs for all stations in the third year of the program.

The 800 mhz/Numbering Committee reported that they met and recognized the following issues with regard to fire apparatus numbering:

o Present system is inconsistent
o Duplication of some unit numbers exists
o Confusion results among other agencies (law enforcement, for example)
o Current system lacks expandability, especially for departments with multiple stations.

The committee recognized that number is a complicated issue with strong emotions. They will have to have total buy-in from all users. They proposed to continue working on this issue.

The Facility Committee reported that Eastern Wake Station 2 has been added to the list for evaluation of station closure.

The Facility Committee also reported that no life safety issues are present at Bay Leaf Station 1.

Public comment at the close of the meeting resulted in a lively discussion of fire unit numbering and the newly announced EMS unit numbering. In particular, it was pointed out, the new Rolesville EMS unit numbers will duplicate Rolesville Fire Department unit numbers. It was also observed that the new Six Forks EMS unit numbers will duplicate Bay Leaf Fire Department unit numbers.

It was also observed that there is a need for greater collaboration between fire and EMS agencies with regard issues that impact both sides.

Regarding fire unit numbering, the the Public Safety Director stated he would bring a recommendation regarding this issue to the Fire Commission in January.

The authority of the Fire Commission was also stated in a nice summary fashion at the end of the meeting. The County Commissioners, it was noted, have indicated repeatedly that they look to the Fire Commission as the authoritative body regarding fire service issues in Wake County.
Legeros - 11/16/07 - 18:21

Mike when does the staffing program start?
4447 - 11/16/07 - 18:25

I believe the program starts FY2009.
Legeros - 11/16/07 - 18:30

Wow, 4 full timers per station huh… that’ll be great. I wonder if, at that time, there will be any kind of formal career ladder program, if they will be county employees with all benefits, or if it will remain to be a “we’ll just give the money to the department” kind of thing. I would think it would be cheaper in the long run to group all of the benefits and the such into a group plan such as the County’s. I would also wonder about things like 401K, if they would be in the state retirement system, etc.

Could be very interesting to see who would take these full time gigs at departments if they can carry their time in the state system with them.
CFP 7021 (Email) - 11/16/07 - 19:11

If the program starts in FY2009 that means that there wouldn’t be 4 FF’s at every station until FY2012. That sucks. On top of that only 4 FF’s per station sucks. We need more people now.
Mike - 11/17/07 - 16:19

So will this include city departments that cover county areas? Some that comes to mind: Apex, Holly Springs, Fuquay-Varina, Morrisville, Wake Forest, & Zebulon to name a few. Or will this only help the contract departments covering the county? I would like to think that my county tax dollars are going to help the city department that covers my county house as well and not just the county departments.

I would like to see the employees of these county departments be county employees. It would cost less and benefit the employees with some consistency and benefits. For that matter, when a station is relocated or closed (I like relocated) the employees can be moved from 1 county station to another county station. Just some thoughts….
Donaldson - 11/17/07 - 20:02

Based on documents regarding this plan that were provided at the meeting, the included departments appear to be:

Bay Leaf
Durham Highway
Eastern Wake
Holly Springs
Stony Hill
Swfit Creek
Wake Forest
Wake New Hope
Western Wake
Legeros - 11/17/07 - 22:36

If the County taxpayer is going to fork over millions for these new personnel, I certainly hope these will be career County employees and not just more dollars funded to the FDs. Hopefullt they’ll get around to closing some of the stations on the list before they hire folks for them
Concerned Taxpayer - 11/18/07 - 00:04

Closing stations is the wrong answer. Relocate resources and personnel if needed. The population density and call volume has already exceeded our capabilities and closing stations will only make it worse. How long to you want to wait for your 2nd due unit? It’s a life safety issue.

and Taxpayer…a career staff through WC was attempted [with one of the departments], and it failed miserably. Stick with the employment plan that was put out in 2005 and ENFORCE the requirements and pay scale. Don’t tell the men/women answering all those calls for service that we should take away their already limited resources by closing a station.
WCFF - 11/18/07 - 08:38

My comments were more towards the fateful outcome of hiring a FF into a career position only to dissolve the entity for which he/she is employed within a year or two.

I would be interested to the causation of why previous attempts “failed miserably”. One would think the appeal of government retirement and related benefits would bring forward more career-minded individuals to the community fire service, rather than someone just looking for a job. Not to impune those currently working for FDs in the County, but to devote many years with no transferable service time seems like something that needs to be resolved – for those currently on the job and before any major countywide hiring binge.
Concerned Taxpayer - 11/18/07 - 14:26

I, too, would be kind of curious to know as to why the county-employed firefighters “failed miserably”. I can think of several things that could have contributed, but since I was not here when they did that, I will let someone else offer the reasons.

I do know, however, the reasons why something similar did not happen in a near-by county, although that involved EMS and not fire. There was a proposal to place county employed paramedics in the independent rescue squads that were not providing paramedic service. The main objective raised by the squads was that they would not have “control” over the county employees, i.e. the power to hire and fire. From what I have seen in some volunteer organizations that employ paid staff is a belief that the paid staff is merely the “hired help”. It is not that way in all places, but certainly is in some.

It’s a delicate balance. Then you have career ladder issues. And at some point the paid staff resents answering to a volunteer officer (especially when we start counting certifications), then the volunteers resent not being allowed to hold or being shut out of officer positions, and so on and so on…

While I personally would think that the county-employee route is the way to go, from a benefits and salary standpoint, there are some that will not want the “central authority” that goes with being a county employee. That is one of the reasons why you have many EMS personnel here in the county that do not want to work for the county.

At any rate, I keep espousing the wonders of Anne Arundel County, MD. It is a large combination paid/volunteer organization. They are not problem free- just go to The Watch Desk and look them up. But it is a workable system to build on. Could it work here? Certainly. Would it be ALLOWED to work here? Now THAT would be a good question.
DJ - 11/18/07 - 15:41

I hear acceptance into the State Retirement System isn’t far off….(fingers crossed) That would really be great for our guys and gals.
AB - 11/18/07 - 17:14

AB I like your optimism. A quick search of the bills introduced last session in the General Assembly showed nothing of it’s kind. Let’s hope the next session garners enough interest in the legislature to make this happen.

DJ – did EMS in Wake not at one point have County medics working in the rescue squads?
Concerned Taxpayer - 11/18/07 - 18:23

As to including non-government firefighters and EMS in the retirement program, it has been tried and killed a couple of times, at least, in the legislature. It rates right up there with 25 year retirements for EMS and fire. Until the career firefighters and EMS personnel in this state learn to work together and get involved in the political process, it ain’t never gonna happen. Don’t count on the good will of many of the folks on Jones Street. If you want to become part of the retirement system, you have two options, go to work for a government agency or get involved in the process of change.

And yes, WCEMS used to provide paramedics to Apex, Wendell, and Knightdale EMS that I know of, maybe Zebulon. Wake Forest/ Northern Wake and Fuquay-Varina decided to go the non-paramedic route, and well, we see how that worked out. Right now WCEMS provides a paramedic to HSFD, and they provide the EMT and the ambulance.
DJ (Email) - 11/18/07 - 18:49

Personal opinion (and those of you that know me….), EVERYONE who is employed to provide a public servive here in wake county, and NC; should recieve State retirement benifits. Obviously the employees of municipalities do, but lets not forget our brothers and sisters who do the same job at “private-non-profit” organizations. The organization recieves taxpayer monies to provide a public service, the same service that the neighboring city or town provides. Reguardless of “testing” procedures, and “we’re better because its harder to get a job here”, all B.S. aside- we do the same job. Give those Combo-department FF’s Benefits! (for those of you who dont know me, I’m a Municipal Employee.)
JBoggs - 11/19/07 - 23:33

It’s not up to anyone here. It is totally in the hands of the legislature. Laws and such would have to be changed.
Get involved. Make phone calls. Call your legislators. Send them letters.
That is the ONLY way it is going to happen…
DJ (Email) - 11/20/07 - 01:11

Excellent points JBoggs. Sounds like this should become the champion issue for both the Fire Commission and the Wake Co Firefighters Association. And as DJ pointed out, this is not a local decision and can only be changed by act of the General Assembly.

For those interested, here is a link to who represents you in the GA http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/counties/..
Concerned Taxpayer - 11/20/07 - 12:48

Contact NCSFA to support their efforts.
AB - 11/21/07 - 19:41

With the new tax evaluations, Wake County should be able to staff ALL fire trucks in ALL fire stations…. ;-) I don’t know about everyone else’s property, but mine has more than doubled in just three years. I am OK with paying if it means all stations get fully staffed, every rescue squad and EMS double their fleet and on street personnel, and the Sheriffs Office get more cars and personnel on the street. If Wake County is going to double my taxes; then how about doubling my services. OK I’m off my soap box.
Donaldson - 11/22/07 - 22:10

Yeah…and for everyone that you find that says they don’t mind paying higher taxes for more deputies, police, fire, and EMS, I’ll show you two or three that will say no. And then there are those that say we should all pay higher taxes “for the children”, meaning hand over more to the schools. Then there are those that say we need the convention center, a light rail system, greenspace, more help for the ‘disadvantaged’, and more.

I work in this field, and I’ll offer this- until we stop spending money on new fire trucks that we do not have the staff for, then I can’t see handing more money over. If you cannot get it out, guaranteed, on the first alarm with a guaranteed crew, then you do not need it. Period.

I don’t want to ‘double’ the EMS fleet. It’s hard enough to get new paramedics as it is. Let’s work on keeping the experienced ones we have BEFORE we think about adding more. If I am having an MI, or worse, I want at least one experienced, seasoned, calm, cool, and collected paramedic there.

OK…it’s getting a little off topic, but, hey, it’s the holidays, I’m bored right now, and they just re-evaluated everything and I got my revaluation notice. I don’t want to pay anymore higher taxes for anything, until I am assured that all the money now is being spent wisely, efficiently, and properly.

And that ain’t happening right now.
DJ (Email) - 11/23/07 - 12:42

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