Alpine Volunteer Fire Department Assessment

A Union Pacific freight train passes the North Brewster County Emergency Response Center. Photo: John Waters

 

Fire and Rescue Services Assessment City of Alpine Texas

By: Chief Chris Barron, MBA

Background

Alpine Volunteer Fire Department (AVFD) provides fire suppression and rescue services for the City of Alpine and areas of Brewster County. AVFD is a mmunicipal-based volunteer fire department and operates primarily out of one station owned by Brewster County. The department currently has 12 members and has 14 pieces of apparatus. However, the city shows the department operates 19 pieces of apparatus.

AVFD has three certified firefighters (Chiefs are Advanced certified and One Captain is Intermediate). The command staff is composed of a Chief, an Assistant Chief, and three Captains. The Captains are required to be certified to a basic firefighter level (if enough qualified individuals are in the department). The department has a meeting every Wednesday with a work-session or training being conducted and a business meeting being held quarterly. Currently five out of the 12 members have less than a year of being with the department. Typical response times are six minutes in the City and 10-12 minutes in the County. AVFD does not report their incidents to the National Fire Incident Reporting System. AVFD runs approximately 120 emergency response calls a year including fire suppression, rescue, and wildland firefighting. Each year, the call volume is typically broken down into half of the calls in the city and half in the county.

I, Chris Barron, Executive Director of the State Firefighters’ and Fire Marshals’ Association (SFFMA) was contacted by Commissioner Garrett at the request of City Manager Zimmer concerning suggestions on how fire departments may be assessed. I discussed the only fire department grading organization with Commissioner Garrett and suggested he request a copy of the AVFD Public Protection Classification (PPC) report and Class Details document from the Insurance Services Office. Within a week or so, Commissioner Garrett contacted me and discussed a more thorough assessment and who might be able to do such an evaluation. I offered my assistance if the department would rejoin the SFFMA and re­ enroll their firefighters in our certification program. I also offered to do the assessment for free INith only my travel expenses to be reimbursed. We agreed on the conditions and set a date of July 1 -3 , 2017 as the onsite visit.

Executive Summary

AVFD does a good job at providing services to the community with their personnel, apparatus, and capabilities. However, some efficiencies, consolidation, changes in operations, and better administration could be implemented to improve services, reduce liability and lessen the risk of a firefighter getting injured or killed while performing duties. Such improvements should help with reducing maintenance expenses, improve overall organizational operations and could ultimately improve the department’s ISO PPC rating.

AVFD has not had any major loss of life or property and the financial checks and balances has kept the department’s financial spending and accountability under watch by the City of Alpine. Typically, poorly run FD organizations will have continuous negative press coverage due to poor leadership/decisions made.

No evidence of AVFD being in the news for issues could be found that would cause concern.

I reviewed the account for AVFD under SFFMA and discovered they had not been members since 2012. The closest other emergency services providers in Brewster County are Marathon (approx. 30 miles), and Terlingua (approx. 80 miles) away.

Findings/Recommendations

Finding #1 – Station Location

The main fire station is located in a spot convenient for the first responders to get to quickly and is sufficient to serve the City of Alpine just fine. However, there is a major concern with the main fire station being right next to a railroad track with the lack of a secondary station. This creates a huge hindrance to emergency services to the City and County IF something were to ever happen to cause the train to come off the tracks, have a tank car leak next to the station or have the train block access to the stat ion for emergency responders.

Recommendation #1 – Alternative/Sub Station.

The City/County should find an additional location to have another fire station. Key factors in selecting a location would be to make sure the location is suitable for AVFD responders to get to quickly, have enough bays to move some of the apparatus, and be capable of having living quarters. This would help distribute apparatus and personnel to other areas so that if one station is compromised or cut off, the other station can still respond to an emergency.

Recommendation #1a – While the old fire station is only a few blocks down the street, it is serving no purpose at this point except to house two fire apparatus owned by the City. Recommend the AVFD remove ALL assets from this location and turn over the facility to the City Water department.

Finding #2 – Apparatus.

AVFD has an extensive amount of apparatus given its annual call volume, budget, and personnel. In fact, at this point, they have more apparatus than they do personnel. All fire departments across the country need to be prepared for any type of disaster they may get dispatched to however there are smarter ways to accomplish this.  A typical response with AVFD on an apparatus is only three personnel.

The City has numerous facilities and a college that are three stories or higher and several buildings in/around the city whose needed fire flow warrant the need for a working ladder truck and a well established water supply.

AVFD runs with three fire engines (none of which are all wheel drive), a ladder truck, a rescue truck, one tanker (tender), two front line brush trucks, two reserve brush trucks, an attack/quick response truck, a Suburban used to haul a Kubota, and two command vehicles. The City shows an inventory of 19 apparatus however only 14 were identified. AVFD’s rescue truck is used to carry cribbing, a cascade system, and rescue tools needed to support fire suppression or rescue operations.

Recommendation#2 – Repairs/Consolidate Apparatus Resources

The old saying “more is better” doesn’t necessarily apply to the fire service any more with departments seeing budget cuts and finding ways to do “more with less.” Also, typically a fire service apparatus useful life is 20 years.

Recommendation #2a – Several repairs should be implemented to get a few vehicles back to operational condition.

Battery Chargers – Any front line pumper/engine should have a plug in battery charger installed

on it. (Not an external battery charger with jumper cables like what is currently on Engine 3.) With numerous flashlights and other electronic devices tied into a vehicles battery system, It is imperative that a fire apparatus starts when it is needed.

Tanker 1 – The auxiliary pump has been out of service for at least two years and has not been repaired or replaced. Since this is the only tanker the department has, it should be repaired ASAP. While the truck is used for dump tank operations, the repair of the auxiliary pump can quickly speed up the filling of a brush truck or engine while on a scene.

Ladder Truck – This truck either needs to be repaired or sold ASAP but SHOULO be replaced with either a certified used straight ladder (non platform) or a new multi-purpose ladder truck. A ladder truck that is not as large as the current one should allow for more than just the three people who are currently cleared to operate the apparatus.

Recommendation 2b – Consolidation

Due to limited manpower and limited qualified drivers, ongoing maintenance and repairs, and ongoing insurance coverage the following are recommended:

  • Sell/Auction/Donate Old/Green ladder truck sitting at the old fire station. This truck has been out of service and serves no
  • Clarify in the interlocal agreement the use of City owned/County owned vehicles and how they should be used in/out of Designate one vehicle as the primary response engine so that each week, truck checks are done and the truck remains 100% operational.
  • Consolidate/Replace Engine 2 & 3 with a single Pumper/Tender. Minimum of 2000 gallon water tank with 1250 gpm pump and a drop tank. This vehicle does not necessarily need to have seating for more than two people due to limited manpower and other vehicles the department
  • Consolidate/Replace Engine 1 and Rescue 1 with a Rescue/ One vehicle can do what these two vehicles do. Minimums would be five person cab, 1500 gal water, 1250 gpm pump, light tower and area for extra SCBA bottles. With limited water capacity in the county, a Compressed Air Foam System (CAFS) unit should be considered along with the truck carrying AFFF foam for airport firefighting operations. Adding a CAFS compressor to the unit will extend the water on the truck by 1O times, allow for easier maneuvering of hoses and extend the length a firefighter is able to fight fire. It would be strongly recommended to have the vehicle be an all wheel drive capable vehicle if this is going to be used as a primary vehicle. This vehicle, with it’s capabilities would become the primary response vehicle for all incidents.
  • Sell Reserve Brush Truck
  • Sell Suburban -A Command vehicle or other vehicle can pull the Kubota
  • Sell Brush 3 or Attack 1 – Use one of the two as alternative brush truck/mini pumper for vehicle fires/road way fires

By reducing the number of apparatus, consolidating some of the services of the apparatus into a single vehicle, the city can reduce ongoing maintenance, insurance and driver training costs associated with keeping such a large number of apparatus. The call volume for the department doesn’t warrant the need/expense for a portable cascade air fill station and should not be needed on a new pumper. An in­ station cascade system and multiple extra air pack bottles already exist.

A Fire Apparatus replacement program should be developed so that the City can financially prepare for future apparatus purchases.

Finding #3 – Communications

Brewster County has two Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP). With two PSAPS, the potential exists to significantly delay the call taking and dispatching times for any type of emergency response. Fire Department personnel also report that due to the lack of training/certification of communications personnel and the fact that the dispatch console is located in the jail creates a potential problem for distractions, abandonment, etc., from the console being monitored for important emergency radio information. This creates a huge liability to the County/City by having two PSAPs and untrained personnel. FD personnel report there has been significant delays in getting dispatched to a call (up to 15 minutes) due to dispatchers being on a wrong channel when trying to dispatch the FD out to an emergency. The Sheriff’s Office, City of Alpine and AVFD all utilize different radio systems in which due to encryption technology, there is not an interoperable communication system amongst the three key agencies for the county.

Recommendation #3

Have one PSAP for Brewster County. This should cut down on delays in dispatch in an emergency services. City of Alpine and the County can still have independent dispatchers if the call volume warrants that however, an interlocal agreement should be considered to have one dispatch for City and County.

Recommendation #3a – Have dispatchers trained and certified according to NFPA Public Safety Telecommunicator Standards (NFPA 1061). Consider having dispatchers with background in emergency services in the hiring process. Evaluate the pay scale, retention rate, and quality of dispatching of the dispatchers.

Recommendation#3b – Establish ways so that FD can talk to PD and SO via radio. All response agencies (Fire, Police, EMS) should all be able to talk with one another. Interoperable communicaitons amongst agencies is a key finding/recommendation that came out of the 9/11 incident in New York City. Cities/Counties all across the nation have done extensive overhauls to their communication systems to make sure public safety entities can communicate with each other. A common radio system, ability to patch radio channels, etc., should all be looked at so that County and City departments can communicate with one another efficiently and effectively.

Recommendation#3c –   Establish Fail Safe Dispatch Policy/Program

There appears to be no failsafe/backup system in place that would be followed if the fire department was dispatched on a call and the department did not respond to an alert. There needs to be a policy in place along with a backup notification method to the first responders in the event an emergency is dispatched and the fire department does not acknowledge receipt of being dispatched. This policy should have time benchmarks identified and other types of notification systems in place if a radio circuit goes down and/or there is no acknowledgement of being dispatched.

Finding #4 – Financial Oversight

The City of Alpine has done a great job of providing oversight to the AVFD regarding expenditures, budget oversight and payment for services. However, such strict oversight creates problems when it comes to emergency expenditures, annual budget expenses, etc., for an emergency response organization.

Recommendation #4 – Funding Approvals

The City of Alpine should allow the AVFD to spend funding as approved in the yearly budget. The Chief should be allowed to order items , repairs, etc., and turn in receipts coded to those particular line items within the AVFD budget.

Recommendation #4a

The City of Alpine should develop a credit card use policy and allow for the Chief and/or Asst. Chief to be able to make purchases ‘Mth the City procurement card. Purchasing limitations must be established. All receipts must be coded and turned in on a regular basis set forth by the City of Alpine. Consequences for misuse of the card and purchase limits should be put in place.

Finding #5 – AVFD Organization

AVFD is a volunteer municipal fire department in which it is currently composed of 12 members in which two of the 12 are the Chief and Asst. Chief. The department’s Chiefs are elected by the membership in a popularity vote. The Chief’s role is operations of the department and the Asst. Chief’s role is that of administrator

Recommendation #5

AVFD chief should be appointed by the City Council or City Manager so that this person would work hand in hand with the City Manager and/or the Emergency Management Coordinator (EMC). The Chief of the department should be responsible for the overall administration of the department and is the spokesperson for the department. The Asst. Chief should be the Chief of Operations. There should be position descriptions for both positions. Having a Chief who is the department administrator and the Asst. Chief as the Chief of Operations is the “norm” for fire service organization.

Finding #6 -AVFD Equipment

At one point in time, AVFD had approximately 30 members. Due to retention issues, the department is now at 12 personnel. This has resulted in numerous amounts of PPE and various other type of equipment that is no longer being used.

Recommendation#6 – Inventory/Reduce Inventory

AVFD should perform a massive inventory of all equipment and PPE. All equipment that is no longer being used should be pulled from inventory and either sold or donated. Excess equipment should be identified, pulled from service and either sold or given away.

For example, three thermal imagers are not necessary for a department who runs only a limited number of structure fires a year.

In selling some of the equipment, a bunker gear cleaning extractor should be purchased for the station since one does not exist. Carcinogens in the fire service left on gear after a fire have been known to cause cancer in firefighters. Firefighters need to have a way to make sure their gear is properly cleaned after a major event and cleaned on a regular basis.

Finding #7 – AVFD Recruitment/Retention Program

AVFD retention rate is quite low based on 5 out of the 12 members having one year or less in the department. With many of the FD members coming from the college, when the semester is over, the college students/local responders leave town. This creates a huge gap in the number of responders available to respond to calls. AVFD uses the Texas Emergency Services Retirement System to retain membership. This program doesn’t appear to be as valuable to a member as it once was. AVFD uses this program primarily for the LODD benefit. These type of benefits are already provided by the State of Texas without having to be in the TESRS program. State and Federal benefits for an LODD provide approximately $830,000 to a firefighter’s family.

Recommendation#7

Utilize some funding from the Pipeline donation to build out the top floor of the fire station so that personnel have a place in which they can sleep at the station.   Make sure fire station facility

recommended best practice items such as vehicle exhaust system monitoring and removal is installed in the station so that personnel don’t become poisoned. Also, make the station as “home like” as possible so that firefighters and the families of firefighters can enjoy the station. The more “homey” the station is the more likely firefighters will want to stay there. Thus reducing response times, improving services and develop team building and cohesiveness.

 

Recommendation #7a – Dorm program

 

AVFD should offer a live in dorm program so that several firefighters are at the station when a call comes out to get the vehicle out the door and responding in a quick erresponse. A program which offers firefighters/students a place to stay, is designed and implemented well with policies and consequences for misbehavior, should be developed. An example of a dorm policy that works well will be given to the AVFD.

Recommendation #7b – Retention Program

Develop a different type of retention program other than the retirement system. There are very few members that are interested nor have investment into TESRS. Bring a program that is more valuable to responders such as a response incentive program, fuel stipend, training that leads toward a firefighter certification, a “career” map to certification. A program that offers value to an individual more so than a death benefit needs to be implemented. AVFD should also become aware of Recruitment/Retention tools and programs that offer value to current and potential members.   Services/Discount retail programs offered by SFFMA are also other tools that come with membership in SFFMA. An example of a responsive incentive program will be provided to AVFD for review/consideration. Having a budgeted program that allows for responders to be rewarded based on activity and performance should be more attractive to the members than a retirement program in which they may never see a payout from due to their short tenure with the department.

Finding #8 – No Formal Training program

Certification/Training Program -AVFD hasn’t enrolled anyone in the SFFMA certification program since the 1990s. In 2014, several people were added to the SFFMA department roster but those personnel’s dues were never paid for, therefore none of the training records could ever be entered into the online certification system.

AVFD offers NO formal training program to their members. Members come to a meeting in which it might be a work session or training on some type of topic. AVFD does use the Action Training System DVD video set and IFSTA Firefighter I and Firefighter II training books/videos. Not following a NFPA Firefighter I & II certification program puts the department at risk for liability and also does not qualify for federal grants or TFS HB3667 grant.

Given the terrain of the area, all fire department fire personnel should become trained in wildland firefighting covering the S130/S190 National Wildland Coordinating Group (NWCG)Introduciton to Wildland Fire Behavior and Wildland Firefighting.

AVFD reports the City being supportive of sending personnel to College Station to the annual municipal fire school. Ho V11ever, due to limited staffing or lack of interest, AVFD has not sent anyone to fire school in a couple of years.

Recommendation #8 -Adopt formal training program

AVFD should adopt a certification program in which they follow, record training, and develop a roadmap for their personnel to get certified . Adopting and following the SFFMA certification program will allow the department to follow a nationally recognized training/certification program. A yearly calendar of training

including the use of at home/online training, skills at the station, weekend training and/or sending personnel to area or annual fire schools. Instituting this calendar would allow for easier scheduling, planning, and budgeting for ongoing training of fire personnel.

Finding #9 – Funding of Emergency Services

Funding for fire suppression and rescue services come from a combination of city and county. The City provides an annual budget of $70,000-$100,000 to AVFD. The County contributes $125,000 each year to the payment of the fire station. The County has 12 more years of payments to pay for the fire station.

Donations come in occasionally and go into an account that the City of Alpine holds.

Recommendation #9

The County/City should evaluate the possibility of an emergency services tax such as an Emergency Services District in which funding is specifically designated to emergency services. It could be that an ESD would not benefit emergency services. (If the ESD tax income comes out to being less than what they city/county is contributing to AVFD). The ability to have the county institute a sales tax dedicated to emergency services could be a source of substantial income due to the amount of industryin the area. If a portion of sales tax is still available, a sales tax revenue consulting company should be used to help to identify and go after those businesses which are normally not thought of to collect and pay taxes to the County/ESD.

Recommendation#9a

Sul Ross University is located in the City of Alpine. This university being in the city causes the need for additional fire protection, equipment, and resources. The City of Alpine should explore an interlocal agreement with Sul Ross University for a partnership program for funding for fire protection and/or equipment personnel. Some level of assistance had been provided in the past with the purchase of an air cascade system which was housed at the fire station.

Finding #10-AVFD Operating Guidelines

AVFD has only a couple of Operating Guidelines. Recommendation #10

AVFD should adopt numerous Best Practices used in the fire service to make sure their members and others know what is expected of them when an emergency arises. A CD of numerous best practices will be provided to the department for them to be able to edit and adopt.

Finding #11 – New Member Background Checks

Due to limited interest in joining AVFD, AVFD only does a driving record check on personnel due to the vehicles being owned by the City of Alpine.

Recommendation#11

AVFD should require a criminal background check to be performed on each new applicant and anyone with a charge of a felony should not be considered to be a member of the department. In addition to a driving record check being performed once becoming a member of AVFD, a yearly driving record check should be performed on each member of the department.

Finding #12 Records Management System

AVFD does not use any type of Records Management System to report their incidents, training, equipment inventory, etc. A single software capable of reporting to the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) and one that can help the department keep track of inventory, personnel training, apparatus maintenance, etc., will help the department be better organized, report their annual incidents and help with better tracking of training for personnel.

 

Recommendation#12

AVFD needs to invest in a records management system which has the basic tools necessary to do their incident reporting, inventory and training tracking. Systems exist that allow for this such as Firehouse Software, Fire Programs Software. Emergency Reporting (Online based ). With the flexibility and volunteer responders, a system would be recommended so that it would allow any responder to help keep up with needed data input, inventory control, etc.

Finding #13 Community Outreach Program

AVFD posts pictures of their trainings, announcements. etc., on the department Facebook page. Recommendation #13

AVFD should develop a comprehensive outreach program consisting of a recruitment/retention program, annual FD Open House, Annual Meeting with City/Commissioners at Fire Station, “Pancakes with Santa” at Fire Station, and a Knox Box property access control system. A changeable sign board close to the fire station should be considered and placed on the main road of town so that the community can see it on a daily basis. Messages about recruitment/retention, Burn Ban notices, community events, fire danger, and other types of messages can be placed on the marker board on a regular basis to make the community more aware of activities in the fire department/community.

AVFD should also establish working relationships with other area fire departments in consideration of mutual/auto aid requests. AVFD needs to work closer with the regional representative from the Texas A&M Forest Service for partnerships in the Fire Wise community program, assistance for grants and training.

Finding #14 Hydrant Maintenance/Identification/Access Program

While the City of Alpine has done a good job of maintaining their hydrant system in recent years some items were noted that can help the fire department’s ability to locate/access a hydrant. Several fire hydrants were noted to have been inaccessible or not easily identified/found.

Recommendation#14

Hydrant locations and maintenance records should be given to the fire department on an annual basis. Any hydrants found to be not in service should be wrapped with a black trash bag and reported to the fire department. Additional items to improve the fire departments ability to locate a hydrant should be adopted. The identification of a hydrant location with a blue reflective marker in the middle of the road can be used so a fire apparatus may easily find the hydrant in the middle of the night. A reflective metallic band or reflective striping can also be used on the fire hydrant itself to allow for easier identification of the hydrant in the middle of the night.

Finding   #15 Fire Wise Community/ Wildfire Risk Assessment

The City of Alpine and Brewster County have a high potential for wildfires and numerous wildland urban interface areas in which homes and subdivisions back up to wildland areas creating a scenario for high loss of property due to wildfires.   Several subdivisions, including the estates on the outside of town only have one way in/out. In the event of a major fire, the residents would basically become trapped if the wildfire were to block access to the road in/out of the subdivision.

Recommendation#15

City of Alpine, Brewster County and AVFD should work with the Texas A&M Forest Service to develop a risk assessment for the county/city and develop a plan to establish Fire Wise Communities in new and existing subdivisions.

Finding #16 Assistance from Other Fire Departments

AVFD only relies on mutual aid from other departments in the time of need. This puts a huge burden on AVFD to get the appropriate number of resources to a scene. Minimum staffing of 18 is generally recommended for a structure fire type of emergency. Average response to an incident from AVFD is 10- 11 members.

Recommendation#16

Given the time it takes to receive mutual aid and the limited manpower, AVFD should enter into an automatic aid agreement with Marathon to at least have either a response of a tender and/or manpower assistance upon initial dispatch of a structure fire. This will not only help reduce response times for aid but also add additional credit to the department’s Public Protection Classification grading details.

Finding #17 Information from Other Agencies

AVFD receives little to no information from businesses or entities which might have an effect on their operations.

Recommendation #17

AVFD should reach out to entities (University, Pipeline, Railroad, local businesses) in the area which could have an effect on emergency services. For example, the State Fire Marshals Office recently conducted an inspection of Sul Ross University. A copy of the inspection report should be requested and the department should work with the University to identify those areas of the report which could cause an issue with for the department in the event of an emergency. Establishment of a communication link between these type of businesses and entities will help the department prepare and better plan for emergency response.

Finding #18 Department Administration/Coordination

Due to the AVFD being strictly volunteer, it is relying on extra time from the Chief and its members in order to run the organization, respond to emergencies and perform necessary repairs to AVFD’s aging equipment. This puts an extra burden on the firefighters and administration. Consequences to the lack of time needed for certain programs means the programs are just not getting done in a timely manner.

Recommendation #18

The City of Alpine/County of Brewster should consider adding responsibilities to the Emergency Management Coordinator’s (EMC) responsibilities including assisting the AVFD with some of the administrative tasks/programs the department needs to catch up. Programs the EMC could help withis coordination/implementation of system improvements to the communications/dispatch system, grant writing, and City/County/AVFD relations.

 

Summary

AVFD does a good job responding to emergencies in the City of Alpine and Brewster County with the limited number of firefighters. Some of the department’s administrative duties have fallen behind over the years including fire incident reporting, participation in a training/certification program, apparatus replacement scheduling, and applying for grants. Often times this happens when a department’s operational responsibilities exceed the time a volunteer has to give to the department. In considering the consolidation, selling, and replacements of fire apparatus, The City of Alpine and Brewster County should consider consulting with a couple of the fire truck apparatus manufacturers to see what type of package deal the company might be able to offer for trade-ins, multi-vehicle purchases, etc. In considering purchasing apparatus, parts/service availability and reputation should all be considered in the decision in purchasing. The City should also look if a Lease/Purchase option is feasible or makes sense for the department given the distance to a location center and the wear/tear on the apparatus.

Given the annual call volume of the department, number of personnel, and average response, the city should consider an immediate need of consolidating and retiring old apparatus that are on the books every year for maintenance. repair and insurance coverage.

AVFD’s relations, training, and interaction with other area fire departments and state agencies needs to improve. Establishing quarterly meetings to enhance operations on the fire ground along with regularly scheduled meetings with all emergency response agencies is recommended.

The department needs to fix potential dispatch concerns including a backup notification system. The City should apply for a pumper/tender grant under the Texas A&M Forest service to help fund an important purchase the department needs as soon as possible. Each year, the department should apply for a Department of Homeland Security grant through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program for needed fire equipment or apparatus.

Conclusion

The City and County need to clarify who owns what and do what is necessary to transfer ownership of any assets that belong to the city and/or county. The interlocal agreement should specify who is responsible is for what and have clauses in it for repairs, maintenance, preventative maintenance, etc. The service agreement which currently exists with AVFD should have provisions in it for setting minimums for training, certifications, response times, repair timeframes, etc.

Some considerations the City and County should think about for the future include any potential issues with conflicts of interests which may exist between City/County and AVFD.   Also, road conditions in the City are in a condition that causes additional wear and tear on the City owned apparatus. Due to the size and weight of the fire apparatus, this causes additional expenses in repairs to the City.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fire and Rescue Services Assessment City of Alpine

Texas

 

By: Chief Chris Barron, MBA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Background

 

Alpine Volunteer Fire Department (AVFD) provides fire suppression and rescue services for the City of Alpine and areas of Brewster County. AVFD is a municipal based volunteer fire department and operates primarily out of one station owned by Brewster County. The department currently has 12 members and has 14 pieces of apparatus. However, the city shows the department operates 19 pieces of apparatus.

AVFD has three certified firefighters (Chiefs are Advanced certified and One Captain is Intermediate). The command staff is composed of a Chief, an Assistant Chief, and three Captains. The Captains are required to be certified to a basic firefighter level (if enough qualified individuals are in the department). The department has a meeting every Wednesday with a work-session or training being conducted and a business meeting being held quarterly. Currently five out of the 12 members have less than a year of being with the department. Typical response times are six minutes in the City and 10-12 minutes in the County. AVFD does not report their incidents to the National Fire Incident Reporting System. AVFD runs approximately 120 emergency response calls a year including fire suppression, rescue, and wildland firefighting. Each year, the call volume is typically broken down into half of the calls in the city and half in the county.

 

I, Chris Barron, Executive Director of the State Firefighters’ and Fire Marshals’ Association (SFFMA) was contacted by Commissioner Garrett at the request of City Manager Zimmer concerning suggestions on how fire departments may be assessed. I discussed the only fire department grading organization with Commissioner Garrett and suggested he request a copy of the AVFD Public Protection Classification (PPC) report and Class Details document from the Insurance Services Office. Within a week or so, Commissioner Garrett contacted me and discussed a more thorough assessment and who might be able to do such an evaluation. I offered my assistance if the department would rejoin the SFFMA and re­ enroll their firefighters in our certification program. I also offered to do the assessment for free INith only my travel expenses to be reimbursed. We agreed on the conditions and set a date of July 1 -3 , 2017 as the onsite visit.

 

Executive Summary

 

AVFD does a good job at providing services to the community with their personnel, apparatus, and capabilities. However, some efficiencies, consolidation, changes in operations, and better administration could be implemented to improve services, reduce liability and lessen the risk of a firefighter getting injured or killed while performing duties. Such improvements should help with reducing maintenance expenses, improve overall organizational operations and could ultimately improve the department’s ISO PPC rating.

 

AVFD has not had any major loss of life or property and the financial checks and balances has kept the department’s financial spending and accountability under watch by the City of Alpine. Typically, poorly run FD organizations will have continuous negative press coverage due to poor leadership/decisions made.

No evidence of AVFD being in the news for issues could be found that would cause concern.

 

I reviewed the account for AVFD under SFFMA and discovered they had not been members since 2012. The closest other emergency services providers in Brewster County are Marathon (approx. 30 miles), and Terlingua (approx. 80 miles) away.

 

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Findings/Recommendations

 

Finding #1 – Station Location

The main fire station is located in a spot convenient for the first responders to get to quickly and is sufficient to serve the City of Alpine just fine. However, there is a major concern with the main fire station being right next to a railroad track with the lack of a secondary station. This creates a huge hindrance to emergency services to the City and County IF something were to ever happen to cause the train to come off the tracks, have a tank car leak next to the station or have the train block access to the stat ion for emergency responders.

 

 

Recommendation #1 – Alternative/Sub Station.

The City/County should find an additional location to have another fire station. Key factors in selecting a location would be to make sure the location is suitable for AVFD responders to get to quickly, have enough bays to move some of the apparatus, and be capable of having living quarters. This would help distribute apparatus and personnel to other areas so that if one station is compromised or cut off, the other station can still respond to an emergency.

 

Recommendation #1a – While the old fire station is only a few blocks down the street, it is serving no purpose at this point except to house two fire apparatus owned by the City. Recommend the AVFD remove ALL assets from this location and turn over the facility to the City Water department.

 

Finding #2 – Apparatus.

 

AVFD has an extensive amount of apparatus given its annual call volume, budget, and personnel. In fact, at this point, they have more apparatus than they do personnel. All fire departments across the country need to be prepared for any type of disaster they may get dispatched to however there are smarter ways to accomplish this.         A typical response with AVFD on an apparatus is only three personnel.

 

The City has numerous facilities and a college that are three stories or higher and several buildings in/around the city whose needed fire flow warrant the need for a working ladder truck and a well established water supply.

 

AVFD runs with three fire engines (none of which are all wheel drive), a ladder truck, a rescue truck, one tanker (tender), two front line brush trucks, two reserve brush trucks, an attack/quick response truck, a Suburban used to haul a Kubota, and two command vehicles. The City shows an inventory of 19 apparatus however only 14 were identified. AVFD’s rescue truck is used to carry cribbing, a cascade system, and rescue tools needed to support fire suppression or rescue operations.

 

Recommendation#2 – Repairs/Consolidate Apparatus Resources

 

The old saying “more is better” doesn’t necessarily apply to the fire service any more with departments seeing budget cuts and finding ways to do “more with less.” Also, typically a fire service apparatus useful life is 20 years.

 

Recommendation #2a – Several repairs should be implemented to get a few vehicles back to operational condition.

Battery Chargers – Any front line pumper/engine should have a plug in battery charger installed

on it. (Not an external battery charger with jumper cables like what is currently on Engine 3.) With numerous flashlights and other electronic devices tied into a vehicles battery system, It is imperative that a fire apparatus starts when it is needed.

 

 

 

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Tanker 1 – The auxiliary pump has been out of service for at least two years and has not been repaired or replaced. Since this is the only tanker the department has, it should be repaired ASAP. While the truck is used for dump tank operations, the repair of the auxiliary pump can quickly speed up the filling of a brush truck or engine while on a scene.

Ladder Truck – This truck either needs to be repaired or sold ASAP but SHOULO be replaced with either a certified used straight ladder (non platform) or a new multi-purpose ladder truck. A ladder truck that is not as large as the current one should allow for more than just the three people who are currently cleared to operate the apparatus.

 

Recommendation 2b – Consolidation

Due to limited manpower and limited qualified drivers, ongoing maintenance and repairs, and ongoing insurance coverage the following are recommended:

  • Sell/Auction/Donate Old/Green ladder truck sitting at the old fire station. This truck has been out of service and serves no
  • Clarify in the interlocal agreement the use of City owned/County owned vehicles and how they should be used in/out of Designate one vehicle as the primary response engine so that each week, truck checks are done and the truck remains 100% operational.
  • Consolidate/Replace Engine 2 & 3 with a single Pumper/Tender. Minimum of 2000 gallon water tank with 1250 gpm pump and a drop tank. This vehicle does not necessarily need to have seating for more than two people due to limited manpower and other vehicles the department
  • Consolidate/Replace Engine 1 and Rescue 1 with a Rescue/ One vehicle can do what these two vehicles do. Minimums would be five person cab, 1500 gal water, 1250 gpm pump, light tower and area for extra SCBA bottles. With limited water capacity in the county, a Compressed Air Foam System (CAFS) unit should be considered along with the truck carrying AFFF foam for airport firefighting operations. Adding a CAFS compressor to the unit will extend the water on the truck by 1O times, allow for easier maneuvering of hoses and extend the length a firefighter is able to fight fire. It would be strongly recommended to have the vehicle be an all wheel drive capable vehicle if this is going to be used as a primary vehicle. This vehicle, with it’s capabilities would become the primary response vehicle for all incidents.
  • Sell Reserve Brush Truck
  • Sell Suburban -A Command vehicle or other vehicle can pull the Kubota
  • Sell Brush 3 or Attack 1 – Use one of the two as alternative brush truck/mini pumper for vehicle fires/road way fires

 

By reducing the number of apparatus, consolidating some of the services of the apparatus into a single vehicle, the city can reduce ongoing maintenance, insurance and driver training costs associated with keeping such a large number of apparatus. The call volume for the department doesn’t warrant the need/expense for a portable cascade air fill station and should not be needed on a new pumper. An in­ station cascade system and multiple extra air pack bottles already exist.

 

A Fire Apparatus replacement program should be developed so that the City can financially prepare for future apparatus purchases.

 

Finding #3 – Communications

 

Brewster County has two Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP). With two PSAPS, the potential exists to significantly delay the call taking and dispatching times for any type of emergency response. Fire Department personnel also report that due to the lack of training/certification of communications personnel and the fact that the dispatch console is located in the jail creates a potential problem for distractions, abandonment, etc., from the console being monitored for important emergency radio information. This creates a huge liability to the County/City by having two PSAPs and untrained personnel. FD personnel report there has been significant delays in getting dispatched to a call (up to 15 minutes) due to dispatchers being on a wrong channel when trying to dispatch the FD out to an

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

emergency. The Sheriff’s Office, City of Alpine and AVFD all utilize different radio systems in which due to encryption technology, there is not an interoperable communication system amongst the three key agencies for the county.

 

Recommendation #3

 

Have one PSAP for Brewster County. This should cut down on delays in dispatch in an emergency services. City of Alpine and the County can still have independent dispatchers if the call volume warrants that however, an interlocal agreement should be considered to have one dispatch for City and County.

 

Recommendation #3a – Have dispatchers trained and certified according to NFPA Public Safety Telecommunicator Standards (NFPA 1061). Consider having dispatchers with background in emergency services in the hiring process. Evaluate the pay scale, retention rate, and quality of dispatching of the dispatchers.

 

Recommendation#3b – Establish ways so that FD can talk to PD and SO via radio. All response agencies (Fire, Police, EMS) should all be able to talk with one another. Interoperable communicaitons amongst agencies is a key finding/recommendation that came out of the 9/11 incident in New York City. Cities/Counties all across the nation have done extensive overhauls to their communication systems to make sure public safety entities can communicate with each other. A common radio system, ability to patch radio channels, etc., should all be looked at so that County and City departments can communicate with one another efficiently and effectively.

 

Recommendation#3c –   Establish Fail Safe Dispatch Policy/Program

 

There appears to be no failsafe/backup system in place that would be followed if the fire department was dispatched on a call and the department did not respond to an alert. There needs to be a policy in place along with a backup notification method to the first responders in the event an emergency is dispatched and the fire department does not acknowledge receipt of being dispatched. This policy should have time benchmarks identified and other types of notification systems in place if a radio circuit goes down and/or there is no acknowledgement of being dispatched.

 

Finding #4 – Financial Oversight

 

The City of Alpine has done a great job of providing oversight to the AVFD regarding expenditures, budget oversight and payment for services. However, such strict oversight creates problems when it comes to emergency expenditures, annual budget expenses, etc., for an emergency response organization.

 

Recommendation #4 – Funding Approvals

 

The City of Alpine should allow the AVFD to spend funding as approved in the yearly budget. The Chief should be allowed to order items , repairs, etc., and turn in receipts coded to those particular line items within the AVFD budget.

 

Recommendation #4a

The City of Alpine should develop a credit card use policy and allow for the Chief and/or Asst. Chief to be able to make purchases ‘Mth the City procurement card. Purchasing limitations must be established. All receipts must be coded and turned in on a regular basis set forth by the City of Alpine. Consequences for misuse of the card and purchase limits should be put in place.

 

 

Finding #5 – AVFD Organization

 

AVFD is a volunteer municipal fire department in which it is currently composed of 12 members in which two of the 12 are the Chief and Asst. Chief. The department’s Chiefs are elected by the membership in a popularity vote. The Chief’s role is operations of the department and the Asst. Chief’s role is that of administrator

 

Recommendation #5

 

AVFD chief should be appointed by the City Council or City Manager so that this person would work hand in hand with the City Manager and/or the Emergency Management Coordinator (EMC). The Chief of the department should be responsible for the overall administration of the department and is the spokesperson for the department. The Asst. Chief should be the Chief of Operations. There should be position descriptions for both positions. Having a Chief who is the department administrator and the Asst. Chief as the Chief of Operations is the “norm” for fire service organization.

 

Finding #6 -AVFD Equipment

 

At one point in time, AVFD had approximately 30 members. Due to retention issues, the department is now at 12 personnel. This has resulted in numerous amounts of PPE and various other type of equipment that is no longer being used.

 

Recommendation#6 – Inventory/Reduce Inventory

 

AVFD should perform a massive inventory of all equipment and PPE. All equipment that is no longer being used should be pulled from inventory and either sold or donated. Excess equipment should be identified, pulled from service and either sold or given away.

 

For example, three thermal imagers are not necessary for a department who runs only a limited number of structure fires a year.

 

In selling some of the equipment, a bunker gear cleaning extractor should be purchased for the station since one does not exist. Carcinogens in the fire service left on gear after a fire have been known to cause cancer in firefighters. Firefighters need to have a way to make sure their gear is properly cleaned after a major event and cleaned on a regular basis.

 

 

Finding #7 – AVFD Recruitment/Retention Program

 

AVFD retention rate is quite low based on 5 out of the 12 members having one year or less in the department. With many of the FD members coming from the college, when the semester is over, the college students/local responders leave town. This creates a huge gap in the number of responders available to respond to calls. AVFD uses the Texas Emergency Services Retirement System to retain membership. This program doesn’t appear to be as valuable to a member as it once was. AVFD uses this program primarily for the LODD benefit. These type of benefits are already provided by the State of Texas without having to be in the TESRS program. State and Federal benefits for an LODD provide approximately $830,000 to a firefighter’s family.

 

Recommendation#7

 

Utilize some funding from the Pipeline donation to build out the top floor of the fire station so that personnel have a place in which they can sleep at the station.   Make sure fire station facility

 

recommended best practice items such as vehicle exhaust system monitoring and removal is installed in the station so that personnel don’t become poisoned. Also, make the station as “home like” as possible so that firefighters and the families of firefighters can enjoy the station. The more “homey” the station is the more likely firefighters will want to stay there. Thus reducing response times, improving services and develop team building and cohesiveness.

 

Recommendation #7a – Dorm program

 

AVFD should offer a live in dorm program so that several firefighters are at the station when a call comes out to get the vehicle out the door and responding in a quick erresponse. A program which offers firefighters/students a place to stay, is designed and implemented well with policies and consequences for misbehavior, should be developed. An example of a dorm policy that works well will be given to the AVFD.

 

Recommendation #7b – Retention Program

 

Develop a different type of retention program other than the retirement system. There are very few members that are interested nor have investment into TESRS. Bring a program that is more valuable to responders such as a response incentive program, fuel stipend, training that leads toward a firefighter certification, a “career” map to certification. A program that offers value to an individual more so than a death benefit needs to be implemented. AVFD should also become aware of Recruitment/Retention tools and programs that offer value to current and potential members.   Services/Discount retail programs offered by SFFMA are also other tools that come with membership in SFFMA. An example of a responsive incentive program will be provided to AVFD for review/consideration. Having a budgeted program that allows for responders to be rewarded based on activity and performance should be more attractive to the members than a retirement program in which they may never see a payout from due to their short tenure with the department.

 

Finding #8 – No Formal Training program

 

Certification/Training Program -AVFD hasn’t enrolled anyone in the SFFMA certification program since the 1990s. In 2014, several people were added to the SFFMA department roster but those personnel’s dues were never paid for, therefore none of the training records could ever be entered into the online certification system.

 

AVFD offers NO formal training program to their members. Members come to a meeting in which it might be a work session or training on some type of topic. AVFD does use the Action Training System DVD video set and IFSTA Firefighter I and Firefighter II training books/videos. Not following a NFPA Firefighter I & II certification program puts the department at risk for liability and also does not qualify for federal grants or TFS HB3667 grant.

 

Given the terrain of the area, all fire department fire personnel should become trained in wildland firefighting covering the S130/S190 National Wildland Coordinating Group (NWCG)Introduciton to Wildland Fire Behavior and Wildland Firefighting.

 

AVFD reports the City being supportive of sending personnel to College Station to the annual municipal fire school. Ho V11ever, due to limited staffing or lack of interest, AVFD has not sent anyone to fire school in a couple of years.

 

Recommendation #8 -Adopt formal training program

 

AVFD should adopt a certification program in which they follow, record training, and develop a roadmap for their personnel to get certified . Adopting and following the SFFMA certification program will allow the department to follow a nationally recognized training/certification program. A yearly calendar of training

 

including the use of at home/online training, skills at the station, weekend training and/or sending personnel to area or annual fire schools. Instituting this calendar would allow for easier scheduling, planning, and budgeting for ongoing training of fire personnel.

 

Finding #9 – Funding of Emergency Services

 

Funding for fire suppression and rescue services come from a combination of city and county. The City provides an annual budget of $70,000-$100,000 to AVFD. The County contributes $125,000 each year to the payment of the fire station. The County has 12 more years of payments to pay for the fire station.

Donations come in occasionally and go into an account that the City of Alpine holds.

 

Recommendation #9

 

The County/City should evaluate the possibility of an emergency services tax such as an Emergency Services District in which funding is specifically designated to emergency services. It could be that an ESD would not benefit emergency services. (If the ESD tax income comes out to being less than what they city/county is contributing to AVFD). The ability to have the county institute a sales tax dedicated to emergency services could be a source of substantial income due to the amount of industryin the area. If a portion of sales tax is still available, a sales tax revenue consulting company should be used to help to identify and go after those businesses which are normally not thought of to collect and pay taxes to the County/ESD.

 

Recommendation#9a

 

Sul Ross University is located in the City of Alpine. This university being in the city causes the need for additional fire protection, equipment, and resources. The City of Alpine should explore an interlocal agreement with Sul Ross University for a partnership program for funding for fire protection and/or equipment personnel. Some level of assistance had been provided in the past with the purchase of an air cascade system which was housed at the fire station.

 

 

Finding #10-AVFD Operating Guidelines

 

AVFD has only a couple of Operating Guidelines. Recommendation #10

AVFD should adopt numerous Best Practices used in the fire service to make sure their members and others know what is expected of them when an emergency arises. A CD of numerous best practices will be provided to the department for them to be able to edit and adopt.

 

Finding #11 – New Member Background Checks

 

Due to limited interest in joining AVFD, AVFD only does a driving record check on personnel due to the vehicles being owned by the City of Alpine.

 

Recommendation#11

 

AVFD should require a criminal background check to be performed on each new applicant and anyone with a charge of a felony should not be considered to be a member of the department. In addition to a driving record check being performed once becoming a member of AVFD, a yearly driving record check should be performed on each member of the department.

 

Finding #12 Records Management System

 

AVFD does not use any type of Records Management System to report their incidents, training, equipment inventory, etc. A single software capable of reporting to the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) and one that can help the department keep track of inventory, personnel training, apparatus maintenance, etc., will help the department be better organized, report their annual incidents and help with better tracking of training for personnel.

 

Recommendation#12

 

AVFD needs to invest in a records management system which has the basic tools necessary to do their incident reporting, inventory and training tracking. Systems exist that allow for this such as Firehouse Software, Fire Programs Software. Emergency Reporting (Online based ). With the flexibility and volunteer responders, a system would be recommended so that it would allow any responder to help keep up with needed data input, inventory control, etc.

 

Finding #13 Community Outreach Program

 

AVFD posts pictures of their trainings, announcements. etc., on the department Facebook page. Recommendation #13

AVFD should develop a comprehensive outreach program consisting of a recruitment/retention program,

annual FD Open House, Annual Meeting with City/Commissioners at Fire Station, “Pancakes with Santa” at Fire Station, and a Knox Box property access control system. A changeable sign board close to the fire station should be considered and placed on the main road of town so that the community can see it on a daily basis. Messages about recruitment/retention, Burn Ban notices, community events, fire danger, and other types of messages can be placed on the marker board on a regular basis to make the community more aware of activities in the fire department/community.

 

AVFD should also establish working relationships with other area fire departments in consideration of mutual/auto aid requests. AVFD needs to work closer with the regional representative from the Texas A&M Forest Service for partnerships in the Fire Wise community program, assistance for grants and training.

 

Finding #14 Hydrant Maintenance/Identification/Access Program

 

While the City of Alpine has done a good job of maintaining their hydrant system in recent years some items were noted that can help the fire department’s ability to locate/access a hydrant. Several fire hydrants were noted to have been inaccessible or not easily identified/found.

 

Recommendation#14

 

Hydrant locations and maintenance records should be given to the fire department on an annual basis. Any hydrants found to be not in service should be wrapped with a black trash bag and reported to the fire department. Additional items to improve the fire departments ability to locate a hydrant should be adopted. The identification of a hydrant location with a blue reflective marker in the middle of the road can be used so a fire apparatus may easily find the hydrant in the middle of the night. A reflective metallic band or reflective striping can also be used on the fire hydrant itself to allow for easier identification of the hydrant in the middle of the night.

 

Finding   #15 Fire Wise Community/ Wildfire Risk Assessment

 

The City of Alpine and Brewster County have a high potential for wildfires and numerous wildland urban interface areas in which homes and subdivisions back up to wildland areas creating a scenario for high loss of property due to wildfires.   Several subdivisions, including the estates on the outside of town only

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

have one way in/out. In the event of a major fire, the residents would basically become trapped if the wildfire were to block access to the road in/out of the subdivision.

 

Recommendation#15

 

City of Alpine, Brewster County and AVFD should work with the Texas A&M Forest Service to develop a risk assessment for the county/city and develop a plan to establish Fire Wise Communities in new and existing subdivisions.

 

 

Finding #16 Assistance from Other Fire Departments

 

AVFD only relies on mutual aid from other departments in the time of need. This puts a huge burden on AVFD to get the appropriate number of resources to a scene. Minimum staffing of 18 is generally recommended for a structure fire type of emergency. Average response to an incident from AVFD is 10- 11 members.

 

Recommendation#16

 

Given the time it takes to receive mutual aid and the limited manpower, AVFD should enter into an automatic aid agreement with Marathon to at least have either a response of a tender and/or manpower assistance upon initial dispatch of a structure fire. This will not only help reduce response times for aid but also add additional credit to the department’s Public Protection Classification grading details.

 

Finding #17 Information from Other Agencies

 

AVFD receives little to no information from businesses or entities which might have an effect on their operations.

 

Recommendation #17

 

AVFD should reach out to entities (University, Pipeline, Railroad, local businesses) in the area which could have an effect on emergency services. For example, the State Fire Marshals Office recently conducted an inspection of Sul Ross University. A copy of the inspection report should be requested and the department should work with the University to identify those areas of the report which could cause an issue with for the department in the event of an emergency. Establishment of a communication link between these type of businesses and entities will help the department prepare and better plan for emergency response.

 

Finding #18 Department Administration/Coordination

 

Due to the AVFD being strictly volunteer, it is relying on extra time from the Chief and its members in order to run the organization, respond to emergencies and perform necessary repairs to AVFD’s aging equipment. This puts an extra burden on the firefighters and administration. Consequences to the lack of time needed for certain programs means the programs are just not getting done in a timely manner.

 

Recommendation #18

 

The City of Alpine/County of Brewster should consider adding responsibilities to the Emergency Management Coordinator’s (EMC) responsibilities including assisting the AVFD with some of the administrative tasks/programs the department needs to catch up. Programs the EMC could help withis coordination/implementation of system improvements to the communications/dispatch system, grant writing, and City/County/AVFD relations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

AVFD does a good job responding to emergencies in the City of Alpine and Brewster County with the limited number of firefighters. Some of the department’s administrative duties have fallen behind over the years including fire incident reporting, participation in a training/certification program, apparatus replacement scheduling, and applying for grants. Often times this happens when a department’s operational responsibilities exceed the time a volunteer has to give to the department. In considering the consolidation, selling, and replacements of fire apparatus, The City of Alpine and Brewster County should consider consulting with a couple of the fire truck apparatus manufacturers to see what type of package deal the company might be able to offer for trade-ins, multi-vehicle purchases, etc. In considering purchasing apparatus, parts/service availability and reputation should all be considered in the decision in purchasing. The City should also look if a Lease/Purchase option is feasible or makes sense for the department given the distance to a location center and the wear/tear on the apparatus.

 

Given the annual call volume of the department, number of personnel, and average response, the city should consider an immediate need of consolidating and retiring old apparatus that are on the books every year for maintenance. repair and insurance coverage.

 

AVFD’s relations, training, and interaction with other area fire departments and state agencies needs to improve. Establishing quarterly meetings to enhance operations on the fire ground along with regularly scheduled meetings with all emergency response agencies is recommended.

 

The department needs to fix potential dispatch concerns including a backup notification system. The City should apply for a pumper/tender grant under the Texas A&M Forest service to help fund an important purchase the department needs as soon as possible. Each year, the department should apply for a Department of Homeland Security grant through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program for needed fire equipment or apparatus.

 

 

Conclusion

 

The City and County need to clarify who owns what and do what is necessary to transfer ownership of any assets that belong to the city and/or county. The interlocal agreement should specify who is responsible is for what and have clauses in it for repairs, maintenance, preventative maintenance, etc.

 

The service agreement which currently exists with AVFD should have provisions in it for setting minimums for training, certifications, response times, repair timeframes, etc.

 

Some considerations the City and County should think about for the future include any potential issues with conflicts of interests which may exist between City/County and AVFD.   Also, road conditions in the City are in a condition that causes additional wear and tear on the City owned apparatus. Due to the size and weight of the fire apparatus, this causes additional expenses in repairs to the City.

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