09/20/08 703 W, 1 I - + 11 - 11 Fire Commission Meeting Highlights

Here is some of what happened at Thursday’s Fire Commission meeting. Here is a PDF scan of the agenda. First, some disclaimers. Yours Truly departed before the end of the meeting. The below summary is very brief and probably biased. Comments, corrections, and clarifications are welcome. The audio recording is available as always from the Fire Marshal’s office. There were also a host of paper handouts. I’ll look into getting these posted somehow.

An ad hoc committee presented recommendations to the current rules of procedure for Fire Commission standing committees. The changes seek to ensure fair representation in the membership of standing committees. A couple points were discussed at length, including the recommendation that Fire Commission members are not Standing Committee members and that Citizens are not representatives on established Standing Committees. It was noted that these recommendations apply to membership, NOT attendance at these meetings, which are open to everyone, citizen and FC member.

The Apparatus Committee provided updates on a Western Wake small vehicle issue (resolved, no longer an issue), apparatus replacements through 2015, and fuel consumption measures. They presented a recommendation for a replacement plan for apparatus and small vehicles. They also attached a revised replacement schedule. The committee also presented an estimated cost of the 2009 NFPA 1901 changes, which they estimate as $8,075 per apparatus. This excludes cost of installation, I believe.

Coming replacements included engines in 2009 for a Bay Leaf, Falls, Fuquay, New Hope; engines in 2010 for Fuquay, Wake Forest; tankers in 2009 for Fairview, Garner, Morrisville, Rolesville; tankers in 2010 for Fuquay; Service trucks in 2009 for Garner, Holly Springs, and Zebulon; no aerials or brush trucks in 2009 or 2010; small vehicles in 2009 and 2010 for Eastern Wake, Fuquay, Garner, Morrisville, Rolesville, Wake Forest, New Hope, and Wendell. The schedule also notes revenue from apparatus and vehicle sales: $25,968 in 2009 and $45,500 in 2010.

For fuel consumption, they presented recommendations that they seek to send to all fire chiefs. These would be recommended actions, but not required. They include (a.) starting talks with Raleigh, Cary, and Durham County, to try to stop sending multiple units on first responder calls, (b.) that the FC adopt and enforce a policy that no department adds themselves to another dispatched department’s call unless requested by the initial unit, or unless a chief officer requests same, (c.) review an attached document showing call types and number of units sent. In particular, in regard to fire alarms, they recommend each department adopt ISO standard for fire alarm response (two units, correct?), (d.) utilize brush units or admin. Vehicles for first responder calls, in lieu of larger apparatus if possible.

The Budget and Management Services requested authorization to perform Fire Tax District Capital Fund clean-up, which involves (a.) removing excess budget appropriation from completed capital projects with a funding source of “debt to authorized” and (b.) transfer excess budget appropriations (cash) from completed or delayed capital projects to contingencies/grant matches and uncommitted funds.

The Facilities Committee provided updates on the fire station dormitory renovation project (continuing to move forward), the status of land purchase for Garner Station 4 (see below), the Wendell Falls fire station project (no action since last FC meeting), Fuquay-Varina Station 1 renovation project (no status change, CIP project docs still pending), Hopkins FD renovation (new CIP request regarding maintenance and repairs).

Regarding Garner Station 4, there was a very long discussion-- perhaps 45 minutes?-- on an Interlocal Government Agreement (ILA) that has been developed with the town of Garner. Items in the ILA include that the land will be owned by Wake County, the town will cost share the land purchase, and cost share payment terms. The discussion revolved around the percentage of cost share to the town, which is 15%. Some FC members felt that the town should pay more, as the station will certainly benefit the town. But it was noted that the county is driving this station, not the town. The county is correcting the problem of rural residents who are paying the fire tax, not receiving the reducing insurance rates that everyone else in the area (entire county?) receives by paying the fire tax. Facts, figures, maps, and opinions were offered. The ILA was ultimately approved.

Under fuel consumption, it was asked why both a city and a county unit are sent on some first responder calls. The Fire Marshal’s office provided the answer. I paraphrase. In the old days, before closest unit, a call in the county but across the street from a city fire station would not be dispatched as a city call. Or vice versa, a call in the city but just down the road from a county fire station. When closest unit was implemented, BOTH a city and a county unit were dispatched. That way, the arriving city unit could render help immediately. Upon arrival of the second unit, the county unit could take over for the city unit, and the city unit could go back into service.
Legeros - 09/20/08 - 08:55

Regarding your fuel consumption paraphrase, does that mean the county unit should immediately get back in service when it is dispatched with a city unit and the city unit “beats” them in?
RescueRanger - 09/20/08 - 19:05

I understand the need for fuel comsumption, but it is BS sending 2 people on a first responder call and leaving the third person of the crew at the station to bring the eng if they get another call. For one you often need that 3rd person on ems calls, some of us run many back to back calls where we leave one call to go to another. So if you need that eng now you are putting 2 vehicles on the road instead of 1. Besides it really isn’t safe for 1 person to be driving an eng by themselves without the extra set of eyes. I don’t want to hear the argument that volleys can come cover the station and make up for the manning, because that just doesn’t happen. You know what fuel consumption is called the price of doing business just like vehice replacement and turnout gear replacement. You don’t hear about the City of Raleigh, or any other major city dropping their manning from a 3 man eng company to 1 so that they can send 2 people on an first responder call.

The county should be pushing for more important things, like that standardized responses, and more staffing. You want fuel consumption, don’t send 4 vehicles to a mulch fire in a median or 2 vehicles on a 1st responder call, or 4 vehicles to a vehicle fire.
Tired - 09/20/08 - 19:07

Regarding my fuel consumption paraphrase, no, the county unit is envisioned proceeding to the scene, taking over patient care, and thus freeing the city unit to return to service, and go back into the city.
Legeros - 09/20/08 - 21:08

Uuuuuggggghhhhh!!! What is it with departments in this area that love to break up a 3 or 4 man company, sending two people on a medical? Will we ever see the need to leave a company entact? Before all else, we were FIRE DEPARTMENT’s FIRST. Improper staffing levels have been cited as contributing factors in firefighter LODD’s, the commission needs to realize this. I guess fuel is more important….well put “Tired”.
Silver (Email) - 09/20/08 - 21:38

Legeros, my question was regarding the county unit coming into the city. A lot of times a county unit still has a contracted area of the city. The city and county unit will be dispatched to the same call within the city limits and the Raleigh unit will beat the county unit in. Shouldn’t the county unit return to service?
And I do agree with Tired and Silver. A fire engine was designed to run calls. First, staff the damn thing and when the buzzer hits roll it staffed. Breaking up the crew is just nonsense just to save a little on fuel.
RescueRanger - 09/21/08 - 11:55

Take a four person company, send to on a medical call, get one volunteer response and now you have a 3 person engine company back at the station.
Consider this - 09/21/08 - 21:15

Ok, I am not sure the Fire Commission always works the best, but that is the system we have in Wake Co, at least for now. I also donít see it changing anytime soon. I have seen a lot of good ideas posted here and a lot of good ideas talked about among firefighters. I also hear a lot of how it should be. Sometimes I agree and sometimes I donít. No big deal.

However, I do have a problem with folks just ďstirring the potĒ and not actually trying to fix the problem. I believe if you have a cause worth fighting for, start at home. Start with your department, your Chief, somewhat of a grass-roots effort.

Once you have the support back home, take your ideas to mutual aid departments and get them to buy into the plan. Come to a Fire Commission meeting. Get on a Fire Commission sub-committee. Be an active member of the fire service in the county.

There are lots who do. I surely donít know everyone who posts here, but I can say not many of you were at the last several Fire Commission meetings, because there are only a few there whom I donít know. Once you take away all the Chief Officers, and a few other government officials and Mike, there are only a handful of people and I know some of them. I know some of you put your names in the ring to fill the citizenís spot. Good for you.

If you donít like whatís happening, come out and letís work to change it. Posting and arguing here can only do so much. Sorry, Mike. This is a great site, and I love the pictures and like the sharing of ideas, but we have proven that just posting here about a subject wonít cause any change. Think about all the dead horses we have beaten. We are still talking about some of the very same things we were talking about years ago.

Like I said, the Fire Commission may or may not be the best system, but it is the system we have. If you want to make some changes, come to a Fire Commission meeting and see how the system works, albeit slowly at times. It can be a slow and painful process, but you can have some influence if you are involved. I have seen it first hand.
Griggs - 09/21/08 - 21:56

Griggs for President.
Got my vote - 09/22/08 - 07:20

Do you have to live in Wake County to be on the Fire Commission or on a sub committee?
Mike - 09/22/08 - 09:39

I am not 100% sure, but I would guess you have to live in the county to be a citizen rep, but as long as you have a fire department affiliation you could serve. For example, if you are a Captain for a department, but live in Johnston Co, I would think you could be on a committee.

As Mike noted in his summary, there is in the works some changes to the standing committee structure. The current proposal for the standing committees would be a five member voting committee, one member from each region plus the chair. Each region would have an alternate also. The Chair of the committee would only vote in the case of a tie. These 5 members are the only voting members, but the meetings are open to fire service members as well as citizens. There were some other recommendations for standing committees, but I do not recall the details. At this point, these are only recommendations and there was discussion about them. I am guessing the ad hoc committee will rework the proposal based on the feedback and then make another presentation.
Griggs - 09/22/08 - 12:28

Hey Sam and Mike – You do not have to live in Wake Co. to be a member. I live in Granville Co. (by about 100yds) and served on the original Fire Commission as the N. Region alternate and later as the N. Region primary representative.
A.Rich - 09/23/08 - 13:15

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