Posts Tagged fire department staffing

Champaign Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

A $1.3 million Department of Homeland Security grant, awarded to the fire department last year, was formally enacted this week to hire six new firefighters.

The grant, called Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response, will last for two years. City staff and the city council are now looking into their options for when the grant expires.

“We’re going to study this for two years to come up with a continuity plan,” said Fire Chief Gary Ludwig. “We want to figure out how we (keep the six firefighters) in the future without reducing city services.”

A proposition for the study, also being called a stainability plan, will have its first appearance at next Tuesday’s city council meeting. Ludwig said he’s not opposed to re-applying for the grant after it ends but he’s unsure if it will be made available again.

Champaign Budget Officer Molly Talkington said the study’s goal will be to “maintain the increased staffing level for Ladder 164 on a recurring basis after the grant expires.” Ladder 164 is located at fire station four on W. John street.

The increased staffing level at hand is 28 firefighters instead of 27. Whenever the station is short-staffed, which Ludwig said happens almost daily, firefighters are called back on mandatory overtime.

Over the past several years, that overtime has cost the department an additional $300,000 at minimum.

“Three years of data reflects that 3.25 – 4.00 firefighters are off each day for leave other than vacation or Kelly Days,” according to the report.

“A Kelly day is when each firefighter is given an average of 8.7 days off per fiscal year to compensate for working a 56-hour work week when a firefighter’s normal work week is 52 hours.”

In addition, Ladder 164 is currently staffed with two firefighters, which the report says causes safety concerns because the ladder can’t be fully operational.

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Barrington village and fire district disagree on staffing

The Daily Herald has another article about to the Barrington Fire Department. This time, the article points to a disagreement between the village and the fire district over staffing.

The village of Barrington has denied a request by the Barrington Fire Protection District for the hiring of seven additional firefighter/paramedics to help serve the district’s larger area surrounding the village.

So fire district trustees Monday came up with a backup suggestion that the village move one person per shift from the fire station in Barrington to the one in Barrington Hills.

“Maybe if the village had one fewer person here (in Barrington), they might see our issue more clearly,” fire district Trustee Tom Long said.

The fire protection district is a separate taxing body serving a 46-square-mile area outside of Barrington. But the district has historically contracted the services of the Barrington Fire Department — inflated to serve the larger area.

The village has recently begun pursuing ideas to find cost savings in its fire protection services, so the fire district’s request could hardly have come at a worse time.

The article goes on to mention a study by the Illinois Fire Chief’s Association which recommends the additional personnel. The entire article can be found HERE

Previous posts about issues concerning the Barrington Fire Department can be found HERE, HERE, and HERE.

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Orland Fire Protection District news

Martin Nowak found an article in the SouthtownStar about the Orland FPD. Excerpts include:

Orland Fire Protection District Board president Jim Hickey says the district’s preliminary 2011-12 budget won’t call for any layoffs or pay cuts for employees.

Board member Marty McGill, called it a “good, sound budget” but expressed displeasure that it would only allow hiring of three firefighters instead of 10.

The full article can be found HERE.

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Article questions CFD staffing levels

Denis McGuire, Jr. found an article in the Chicago News Cooperative questioning the city’s policy of allowing the fire department to maintain current staffing levels which place companies of five per rig. Citing surveys of other large cities and the manner in which each runs their own fire department, the article sites a trend that lowers staffing to four. The article takes into consideration that fire deaths in Chicago have plummeted but counters with the overall reduction in fires. Below are excerpts from the article:

During the year that Robert Hoff became a Chicago firefighter, in 1976, 156 people died in fires in the city. By 2010, when Hoff became the department’s commissioner, that figure had plummeted to 27.

The number of fires that the department was called to put out also dropped dramatically in recent decades. What has hardly changed is the staffing level of the Chicago Fire Department, even as mayors from New York to Los Angeles are trying to combat the recession with reductions in fire protection spending.

The Chicago News Cooperative’s survey of the country’s 10 largest cities found that Chicago ranks near the top in the resources devoted to its fire department. With one firefighter for every 637 residents, Chicago has more firefighters per capita than every large United States city except for Houston, the CNC’s analysis found. And, taking into account its coverage area of about 230 square miles and more than 90 firehouses, Chicago’s department ranked third among the 10 largest cities in the density of firehouses, behind only New York and Philadelphia. (See the complete rankings)

“The decline in fire deaths and fires over the years is not reason to think about cutting back the number of firefighters or firehouses,” the fire department spokesman, Larry Langford, said in a statement this week.

Langford, the department spokesman, said the lower fire death rate is due in part to the department having “enough manpower to conduct searches while simultaneously” fighting fires and keeping flames from spreading to other buildings.

The decline in the number of fire deaths in Chicago was part of a national trend attributed to a variety of factors, including sprinkler systems, fire alarms and smoke detectors. City statistics for structure fires show a drop from almost 5,700 in 1996 to less than 2,500 in 2008.

But the number of medical calls to the fire department increased at the same time that the number of fires dropped, Langford noted.

Langford said Chicago needs larger crews because it has many apartment buildings as well as multi-story public schools and nursing homes. Even in largely residential areas of the city’s bungalow belt, Langford said, homes “are often very close together,” requiring more firefighters than the minimum standard.

He pointed to studies showing that four-person crews were only 65 percent as efficient as having five firefighters in a team. “That translates into minutes saved, which is lives and property saved,” Langford said.

The complete article and supporting data can be found HERE.

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