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Monday, September 22, 2014

The “New” Fire Memo

The old memos were good, but they
were a handful to keep organized.

For many years, the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) has distributed “the packet” of fire department memos to fire chiefs, firefighters, and city officials who had questions. The packet contained 22 individual documents on over 50 pages in a plastic folder. While the information was very helpful, it was not organized.

These packets no longer exist. All of that information is now online and is consolidated into a revised memo entitled “Fire Department Management and Liability Issues.” In addition to the updated information, the new memo has links to additional information and references.

You can find the memo on the LMC website in the Resource Library at:

http://lmc.org/media/document/1/firedepartmentmanagementandliabilityissues.pdf

A few examples from this newly consolidated memo:
  • Chapter 2 is entitled “Managing City Fire Department Employees.” It is full of good human resources information on the topics of hiring, discipline, alcohol response policies, and code of conduct.
  • Chapter 4’s focus is on managing fire department finances. It covers charging for fire calls, contracting for service, compensating firefighters, and even fundraisers and donations.
  • There is also a chapter on safety. It includes a revised version of the memo “Trends in Firefighter Injuries”. It looks at the number, type, and location of firefighter injuries—as well as “Loss Control Recommendations” for fitness, economics, and training. There are chapters on fire department consolidations, NFPA standards, and managing fire relief associations as well.
It is all online, available when you want it, and will be updated as needed. 

Remember:

                                            Responder Safety = Public Safety



Up next…A report from the fire workshops.

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.



Rob

Friday, September 5, 2014

Not All Runs Are Emergencies—A Graduated Response

The Coon Rapids Fire Department is now
using a graduated response to calls.
The newspaper article focused on Coon Rapids Fire Chief John Piper’s decision to no longer respond to all fire alarms by sending fire trucks to them with their red lights or sirens on (Code 3) unless the alarm is accompanied by a report of smoke, odor, and any other signs of trouble. Instead, a truck will respond routinely.

Chief Piper cited the risks for the public and firefighters every time a fire truck goes on emergency response and the large number of fire alarms that are false. In Coon Rapids’ case, it had been more than two years since a fire alarm was actually reporting a fire.

When I asked Chief Piper about his decision, he quickly noted that many of the Anoka County fire departments had already adopted this policy and that they were just the latest to make this change. He directed me to Nyle Zikmund, the fire chief for the Spring Lake Park-Blaine-Mounds View (SBM) Fire Department.
Spring Lake-Blaine-Mounds View
Fire Chief Nyle Zikmund

Zikmund said SBM started making this change 15 years ago. At SBM, many of these alarm calls are handled by a duty chief who responds routine with a chiefs’ vehicle. Zikmund noted that the call can be upgraded to a full response at any point if additional information indicates an actual emergency.

He said his research indicated that less than 0.5% of the automated fire alarms are real fires—and added that it takes alarm companies more than two minutes to process the alarm information and notify the correct dispatch center. In other words, if it was a real fire, they would be getting 911 calls well before the automated alarm could be processed.

Zikmund said his decision was about safety and about managing resources. It is a “different mindset” and a “cultural change” that involves critical thinking as part of the response. He also noted that police departments have used a routine response to many automated alarms for years for exactly the same reason. At SBM, they have 15 years of experience and data and have not had a problem.

I noted that SBM Fire Department puts an explanation of their graduated response on their website: “While every call for emergency service is answered, the level of response is dictated by the nature and degree of the emergency. This results in a response that ranges from a phone call when time permits to all equipment and staff responding and if necessary, a mutual aid request.”

Remember:

                                            Responder Safety = Public Safety



Up next…The old fire packets are gone—but the information has been updated, revised, and is now online.

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.



Rob

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Fall Workshops

The registration is now open for the fall workshops, and classes are filling.

Firefighters
Back by popular demand is Fireground Safety—10 Frequent Mistakes, 10 Best Practices with Dr. Richard Gasaway. Dr. Gasaway will discuss common mistakes and best practices based on evaluations of near-miss reports and line-of-duty casualty investigations, and show how to improve fireground safety. The presentation will be offered in Slayton, Morris, St. Cloud, Crookston, Bemidji, and Sandstone. Class will start at 5 p.m., and the $15 charge includes a light dinner. For more information and registration, go to: www.lmc.org/fire14RB 


Police Officers
We are bringing Randy Means back for the third year in a row and are still receiving positive comments from officers who attended his past workshops. Mr. Means will be presenting Police Leadership in the New Normal Part II. Join us at this intensive two-day workshop to learn how to create an organizational structure that includes consistent policies for the all the members of the leadership team. The $30 fee covers the working lunch for both days, and officers will receive POST credit. The course will be offered in Fergus Falls and in Maple Grove. For more information and registration, go to www.lmc.org/reports14RB


Police Reports
Why Police Reports Are a Big Deal with Jason Hiveley is a one-day, hands-on workshop to improve police report writing. Mr. Hiveley presented a short version of this course at the spring workshops, and you asked for more. For police officers, a well-written report can be the key to a criminal conviction, a powerful defense in a civil case, and a very public example of an officer’s professionalism. Officers will learn practical tips and simple strategies for writing quality police reports. The course will be offered in Maplewood, Golden Valley, New Brighton, Lakeville, and Olivia. The $15 fee includes a working lunch, and officers will receive POST credit. For more information and registration, go to www.lmc.org/police14RB

Remember:

                                        Responder Safety = Public Safety



Up next…Fire departments using a graduated level of response—not all calls rate an emergency run.

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.



Rob