By Erin Nemastil, City of Wyoming Communication Specialist
WYOMING, Mich., November 19, 2013 – During yesterday’s city council meeting, Wyoming City Commissioners approved funding for a new fire fighter deployment plan that will continue efforts to expand and enhance fire services.
The plan, developed by Public Safety Director James Carmody, recommends changes to current staffing and deployment that will allow the City to add new firefighters and equipment, improve training opportunities and enhance community outreach. It is part of an ongoing initiative to re-engineer the way the City provides services, ensuring all departments are able to provide the highest caliber services for the tax dollars spent.
The City plans to pay for the additional expense through savings from the new scheduling model and with the newly restored Public Safety millage of .25 mils that was temporarily suspended last year. Commissioners had previously rolled back the millage after establishing an adequate fund balance for Public Safety.
The first phase in the multi-phase plan calls for:
• The addition of three full-time firefighters, which allows the Department to deploy more personnel and equipment to any one of the four fire stations at varying times of the day, based on need
• A shift to peak load staffing, which allows the City to have more firefighters and response units available from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. when the department receives the highest number of medical and emergency calls
• Continuing to increase the Department’s paid-on-call firefighting staff, who support the fire stations on South Division Avenue and Burton Street
• Staging apparatus and building a paid-on-call firefighting response team for the Gezon Fire Station
• Purchasing two new quick response vehicles, or QRVs, a smaller and more nimble apparatus that has both fire suppression and patient care capabilities in one vehicle
• Reinstating the fire marshal position, which will increase the City’s ability to impact fire safety measures through inspections and enhance the City’s arson investigation capabilities
Carmody, the City’s longtime police chief who was tapped in July to lead the newly formed Public Safety Department, developed the recommendations with assistance from both the police and fire departments.
“We applaud Chief Carmody for developing a plan that fundamentally improves the quality of the fire and medical services we deliver to our community while managing costs,” said City Manager Curtis Holt. “He and his team provided a thoughtful, data-driven roadmap that addresses key concerns of firefighters – namely the need for better and more consistent training – while increasing community outreach and fire prevention education.
“The end result will be a better and more efficient organization designed to meet the emergency needs of Wyoming. Our new model will be one that other communities can emulate.”
Carmody and his team spent the past six months evaluating the number, location and type of emergency calls, response times, units required and other issues. After overlaying the data on a density map of City residents and businesses, the team found:
• The Fire Service responded to 5,407 calls for service last year
• Approximately 70 percent of all calls were medical in nature
• Of the medical calls, approximately 40 percent were classified as critical, such as heart attacks or strokes, while 60 percent were non-critical, such as falls
• During that same year, the Fire Service responded to 95 fire-related calls
• The 36th Street station location has been effective in providing service to the entire city
• Wyoming had approximately 100 calls requiring mutual aid from surrounding municipalities representing approximately two percent of all calls
“The Wyoming Firefighter’s Association is excited for the proposed changes within the Division of Fire Services,” said Eric Campbell, president of the association. “These changes will allow us to maximize efficiency and effectiveness as we work to provide the highest caliber of the fire and medical services to our residents.”
In order to build a team of available paid-on-call firefighters during normal business hours, the City implemented an innovative program of cross-training City employees, many of whom are currently working in other City departments, who can now respond to fire calls during the daytime.
“By transitioning to a peak staffing model, the City will ensure it has the right people and the right apparatus in the right places at the right times,” Carmody explained. “It will ensure that our firefighters have opportunity and access to training, which they – and professional organizations like ICMA – have identified as lacking right now. Not only will this training make our firefighters safer, it will also enhance our ISO rating and possibly reduce the amount residents have to pay for insurance.
“Finally, this new model will allow our firefighters to spend more time in the community creating relationships and providing much-needed prevention education to schools, businesses, residential communities and other organizations. Education and community outreach are the biggest factors in reducing fires.
“Last year, our police officers conducted more than 30,000 business checks and began visiting each public and private school in Wyoming. Our police officers now make every effort to visit every school every day of the school year, which has been met with appreciation from parents, students, school teachers and staff members. We anticipate our firefighters will be able to have the same positive impact by increasing their presence and visibility.”
Currently, most full-time firefighters work a 24-hour shift. Under the new model, a supplemental 12-hour shift for some firefighters will allow for more staffing during peak call periods.