Courtesy of East Fork Fire Protection District · 5 min read
MINDEN, Nev. — The East Fork Fire Protection District Board of Directors adopted the 2017 Standard of Cover. The document describes the service area, the risks that must be protected and reduced within the jurisdiction, the capabilities, and the performance objectives and measures.
This information will allow the District to identify risks in the jurisdiction, analyze and establish levels of response service to respond to those risks, and most importantly, evaluate the performance through benchmarked response times and staffing objectives. These response time goals, staffing objectives, and resource deployments will contribute to our commitment to continually improve how we deliver our services.
In revising the deployment plan, the methodology used required the assumption that it is reasonable, realistic, fiscally sound, based on factual data, contract compliant, and safe in the allocation and deployment of personnel, both career and volunteer, and the physical resources of the District.
The plan also attempts to adhere to all related rules, regulations and requirements. Also taken into consideration are nationally adopted standards, such as those promulgated by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the American Heart Association (AHA), theInternational Association of County Managers (ICMA), and Insurance Services Offices (ISO), as examples. Using multiple standards to gauge performance can serve as an effective and well-balanced “checks and balances” of the entire deployment model specific to the District.
While NFPA 1710’s primary focus is on staffing, the American Heart Association tends to consider response time for emergency medical services. The International Association of County Managers’ standards attempt to relate service levels in the form of a ratio between the population of the area served and the number of responders available.
Lastly, ISO, serves as an overall “report card” solely on fire protection services, but includes water supply and dispatching.
One of the most important standards the district hopes to achieve is being able to provide Advanced Life Support within 8 minutes 90 percent of the time throughout the District and a rescue ambulance within 12 minutes 90 percent of the time. East Fork’s fire engines are all staffed with at least one paramedic and with the necessary advanced life support equipment. The district currently staffs three rescue ambulances. Counting the four engine companies and three ambulances, the District is able to staff seven advanced life support units.
Critical to the District’s response time standards is the work of the Emergency 911 Center. The dispatch center is one of two fully accredited dispatch centers in both fire and emergency medical services and used call screening to determine the appropriate level of response before dispatching fire and rescue units.
“Equally important to the preceding is recognizing that the safety of our personnel must be a priority,” District Chief Tod Carlini said. “A priority which can’t be ignored and one which should not be compromised for the sake of meeting response time objectives.
“As the financial status of the District hopefully improves, staffing must be a strong consideration”.
With annual call volume increasing at a rate of 3 to 4 percent per year and given the current reality and modifications to our volunteer program, the need for additional career personnel is justified, Carlini stated.
Volunteer personnel will hopefully play a key role in the logistical needs of incidents and the District in general. The district has “re-tooled” the volunteer program but faces some significant challenges, including general demographics, lack of jobs, lack of affordable housing, and competing interests of an individual’s free time activities. The district latest attempts at volunteer recruitment have yielded over 26 interested individuals in the new volunteer
Carlini said that while the District has fire stations in all of the District’s “communities” such as Johnson Lane, Fish Springs, Genoa, Sheridan, Topaz Lake, and Ruhenstroth, those stations are not staffed and volunteer participation in most is in critical decline. The new program being pushed out at the present time hopes to see the recruitment of new volunteer personnel, but in roles which serve the logistical needs of the organization as a priority.
Currently, over 500 hours of training is needed for an individual to become a certified Firefighter I and EMT Basic in Nevada. The bottom line still remains that additional staff level personnel are going to be needed sooner than later stated Chief Carlini. Balancing the financial reality of providing a competitive and retentive wage, adding additional personnel, working to retain current employees, and providing for capital equipment purchases is a huge challenge, as there is only so much funding available.
The East Fork Fire Protection District Standards of Cover has been developed to translate the general needs and objectives of the District as it relates to the allocation of resources to achieve the self‐imposed standards which are drawn from several recognized sources. The document is not intended to define in specific detail the finite changes that would support the standards. The document will serve as a recommended body of ideas for the administration to consider and to guide future budget development and procedural considerations and implementation.
The district will pursue a long list of recommendations to consider of three phases, spanning 36 months.
The document was developed without the use of a consultant and was truly an in house work effort.
The East Fork Professional Firefighters Association was represented by Battalion Chief Troy Valenzuela, Fire Captain Ron Santos, and Firefighter/Paramedic Adam Wennhold.
Volunteer members included Dave Thomas and Bob Spellberg. Deputy Chief Dave Fogerson facilitated the effort. Consultation fees for similar work for other jurisdiction have cost well over $60,000.
Over 87 percent of the District’s call volume is ambulance related. The plan does propose the use of a staffed 40-hour “day ambulance” to help offset the medical call volume during defined and statistically demonstrated periods of times, however, the association contract will not allow that measure until all four of the district’s fire engines are staffed with three personnel.
Chief Carlini stated that is a very challenging issue and can understand the association’s position, in fact he supported the need to up staff the engines due to the sharp decline in volunteers and for the safety related issues over a year ago.
Deputy Chief Dave Fogerson stated that, “ Most days we are able to manage the calls with the current staffing model, however, it seems that we are seeing more and more situations which are demanding additional ambulance capacity.
Unit hour utilization is used to track how “busy” a particular response resource is. The district is attempting to maintain unit hour utilization at or below 35 percent as it relates to the distribution of call volume.
The District Board commended the group’s effort and was over all impressed with the information and the use of data.
The East Fork Fire Protection District Board of Directors held a public workshop on the document in July and prior to the August 15, 2017 approval. The complete document is available online at eastforkfire.org.