County wide fire dept examples?

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W2PMX

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It is a good thing to have a county wide fire system but remember this if you do a county wide system for all county departments and you have a disaster just think 5 or 6 fire departments trying to use the same system all at the same time that will load a well designed trunking system much less one repeater
Sorry to mention NYC again, but in about 1967 there was a fire that involved just about every company in the city. No trunking, just mobile communications centers. It was handled pretty well. No real communications snafus that I can recall. (But many city employees earned their week's salary that day.)

An efficient communications crew can rise to maybe not any occasion, but most of them. But that takes a communications division in the department. If communications is considered just something that the firemen do as part of their duties, the situation can fall apart very quickly if there's a disaster. Dispatchers shouldn't fight fires and firemen shouldn't run communications.
 

BoxAlarm187

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It is a good thing to have a county wide fire system but remember this if you do a county wide system for all county departments and you have a disaster just think 5 or 6 fire departments trying to use the same system all at the same time that will load a well designed trunking system much less one repeater
As someone who both works and volunteers in counties with county-wide fire departments, I can attest to you that the radio systems were designed to allow for a catastrophe without over-taxing the radio system.

A lot of people don't understand that there are a lot of different forms of goverment and political jurisdictions in the US. For example: independent cities. There are only 42 independent cities in the US, and all but three of them are located here in Virginia (Baltimore, MD; St. Louis, MO; and Carson City, NV are the other three). Pennsylvania has several layers of local government, including counties, cities, villages, boroughs, townships, and towns. Allegheny County, PA has 262 local governments within it's borders!

In my neck of the woods, having fire departments organized/managed at a county level is nothing unusual. For example, the county I work for was one of the first established counties in the US (founded in 1634) and we don't have any towns, cities, towns, etc within our borders. We protect 306,000 people across 245 square miles from 20 fire stations. We coordinate training, purchases, expansion, hiring, and all other facets of the fire service closely with the county's elected officials.

Where I volunteer, we're very rural. Our county is 272 square miles with a population of 30,000, protected by 5 volunteer fire departments. Although each of the fire departments is it's own incorporation, we have a full-time county fire chief who serves as a liaison between the local elected officials. The county purchases all of the fire apparatus, turnout gear, fuel, insurance, fire stations for the volunteers. All stations are dispatched by the county's sheriff's office, operate on the same frequencies, use the same radios, etc. We truly operate as a county-wide fire department.

Since the OP was asking for examples of countywide fire departments, here are some in my state: Arlington County, Cheterfield County, Henrico County, James City County, York County, Goochland County, Louisa County, Powhatan County, Amelia County, Stafford County, Prince William County, Loudoun County, amongst others. Although some of these places have independent volunteer fire departments, they still operate as a countywide fire department.
I, for one, am a strong supporter of consolidation, which helps reduce the layers of red-tape and redundancy. It's a win-win for the taxpayers...
 
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902

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Funny you mentioned that. The structure in that area is mostly fire protection districts that have their own independent boards of governance separate from and not reporting to the county. They are their own taxing entities and the counties usually collect taxes. There are some municipal departments, as well. Those do have lines of authority back to the administrator or chief elected official of the municipality. These districts do not have to follow the corporate boundaries of cities. It's very likely there that a city and the surrounding unincorporated areas are covered by a district. Districts also consolidate for economic reasons. During my time in the Midwest, I saw two of these consolidations. They were done mostly for tax-base reasons and each department was already running automatic mutual aid calls into the other's, so it was more of a governance shift. I believe a revision in Missouri statutes prohibits a local government from forming any new fire departments in favor of forming a separate board of governance and taxing district (I may have gotten that confused with EMS response).

Regional communications centers, or centralized dispatching facilitates this sort of independent but operating together under automatic mutual aid operation. That entire region is migrating from conventional VHF frequencies, which were problematic in some cases, to a regionwide trunked radio network.
 

DEPUTY11

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Obviously no one on here is from or lives in the MD region? Those people do nothing but fight between the paid staff and the vollies. They have paid chiefs and volly chiefs, as well as paid ff's and volly ff's. The paid guys have their own rig and the vollies have theirs. It has come down to physically fihting on the fire grounds. One incident the paid crew was on scene, had a hose strecthed and charged with water, guys were inside this working house fire and the volly engine comes in and parks on the hose cutting off the water to the paid crew inside. So you tell me if it;s gonna work or not. Time will tell.
 

BoxAlarm187

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It has come down to physically fihting on the fire grounds. One incident the paid crew was on scene, had a hose strecthed and charged with water, guys were inside this working house fire and the volly engine comes in and parks on the hose cutting off the water to the paid crew inside. So you tell me if it;s gonna work or not. Time will tell.
Those of us in the Mid-Atlantic know the county you speak of, and the amount of in-fighting that goes on there. The make-up of the department is so unusual that I've seen college-level papers written about it.
 

ff-medic

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Merging Fire departments can be a good thing. large areas could benefit, by pooling resources and money, merging equipment and personnel. Smaller groups merged, would benefit communication wise within the department.

Leadership within the department would have to be worked out. People on individual departments, would more than likely loose their seniority, and or position. City and or County Government would have to decide on who would be overall responsible for the merged agency, as well as appointing leadership. Volunteers could still subsidize staffing and response.

A testing standard would have to be created for hiring and leadership positions. Money saved could go to full time personnel ( instead of volunteer / part paid ), as well as some equipment upgrades. If volunteer , part time paid agencys merged, to provide a full time service to a fire district, I am sure taxpayers and business owners could pay a small increase in taxs to help fund a full time department, if a small tax increase was warranted. It would benefit taxpayers and business owners in insurance savings, and an increased ISO rating helps and benefits communitys money wise in insurance and liability costs.

Decreasing response times, increasing citizens confidence = Merged agencys. Community fairs by the fire department, full time personnel dedicated to making the public aware fo fire suppression & general emergencys. The deparment(s) holding opene houses at the fire stations, letting the public see where their money is going to, what the department(s) actually does, and the missions and roles it performs. Some people actually do not know what Fire Departments do, and most especially ; what they are capable of.

A full time fire department could work with water utiltys to upgrade water and fire hydrants, as well as other insurance prerequesitites to help the public, citizens even more. Saings to taxpayers and business owners , a smal portion of those savings...again going to the new paid Fire Service.

As with any change, research and planning needs to take place. This mimimizes the bugs and what can go wrong will, events that occur when something as this occurs. Input from current members is almost essential to government leaders ; and insight from the community as a whole, after educating them with media sources - Newspaper, radio - flyers & word of mouth from political leaders and department leadership.

Study, Plan, Educate, Change.

FF - Medic !!!
 

ff-medic

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Those of us in the Mid-Atlantic know the county you speak of, and the amount of in-fighting that goes on there. The make-up of the department is so unusual that I've seen college-level papers written about it.
"In-Fighting". Lemme guess....whom is going to be in charge, and whom is going to make the decisions? Whom gets to do this and whom gets to do that? Outside Liason? Class? Schools? Promotions? Politics within the department? Favortism? Good-Ole-boy program?

Geeze?

In house rivelry, poker table and golf course friends, ect..ect.

It happens in alot of the stations nationwide.

FF - Medic !!!
 

ff-medic

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Obviously no one on here is from or lives in the MD region? Those people do nothing but fight between the paid staff and the vollies. They have paid chiefs and volly chiefs, as well as paid ff's and volly ff's.
One set of leadership, with the same rules for everyone. Everyone gets treated the same, and each person is treated as an equal. If they can meet the standards, perform their job, then their should not be a problem.

The paid guys have their own rig and the vollies have theirs. It has come down to physically fihting on the fire grounds. One incident the paid crew was on scene, had a hose strecthed and charged with water, guys were inside this working house fire and the volly engine comes in and parks on the hose cutting off the water to the paid crew inside. So you tell me if it;s gonna work or not. Time will tell.
Seems like the chief has head head up his ( as we say in the military ) four point of contact. When each person is not created as an equal, you are going to have leadership problems, personnel problems, performance problems as a group and as an individual. This is basic leadership 101, and any Fire Officer worth his or her weight, that has any education - time in the fire service - classes and prerequisites for being a leader in the fire service should know this. Even me, in my experience in the Fire and EMS service know this.

You do not segregate, expect for maybe a few reasons. In your post, I do not see any reasons. Same equipment, same standards, same treatment...for everyone.
A paid chief, and a volunteer chief in the same department -my opinion and experience, is stupid. The paid Chief is overall responsible for the entire department. The Chief and their staff is responsible, him and his staff is in charge. The lower member do their job, follow the rules - and if the lower member(s) they don't know...ask. If they cannot "do", the chief and his leadership show them.

The Chief and the Chiefs leadership is responsible for the training, deployment and morale of their members. You cannot have multiple commands. Multiple commands = ( taking orders from multiple people ) - is a recipe for disaster, and leads to communication problems ; and possible someone getting hurt. Information and orders flow from the top, and work their way all the way to the bottom of the membership. Information is put out , distributed by one person to subordiate leadership ; and that leadership disseminates that info down the chain. One correct and smooth flow.

Volunteers fighting with career personnel and vice versa. When a group gets treated as individuals, this will happen. In my opinion...this is the chiefs fault. If the chief, and thier leadership was qualified to be in the position ( classes - eduation - training - experience - qualifications = leadership classes, fire officer classes, vehicle and fire training, equipment training and certifications...ect..ect ) , this should not happen.

Again, in my training, eduation and experience - Your post sounds like a severe leadership problem. The blame should go to the Chief and his immediate staff.
 
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902

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(snip)A paid chief, and a volunteer chief in the same department -my opinion and experience, is stupid. The paid Chief is overall responsible for the entire department. The Chief and their staff is responsible, him and his staff is in charge. The lower member do their job, follow the rules - and if the lower member(s) they don't know...ask. If they cannot "do", the chief and his leadership show them.

The Chief and the Chiefs leadership is responsible for the training, deployment and morale of their members. You cannot have multiple commands. Multiple commands = ( taking orders from multiple people ) - is a recipe for disaster, and leads to communication problems ; and possible someone getting hurt. Information and orders flow from the top, and work their way all the way to the bottom of the membership. Information is put out , distributed by one person to subordiate leadership ; and that leadership disseminates that info down the chain. One correct and smooth flow.

Volunteers fighting with career personnel and vice versa. When a group gets treated as individuals, this will happen. In my opinion...this is the chiefs fault. If the chief, and thier leadership was qualified to be in the position ( classes - eduation - training - experience - qualifications = leadership classes, fire officer classes, vehicle and fire training, equipment training and certifications...ect..ect ) , this should not happen.

Again, in my training, eduation and experience - Your post sounds like a severe leadership problem. The blame should go to the Chief and his immediate staff.
I agree, and this is one of the hazards that consolidation can bring. I am the product of a combination fire department. I worked there for a time and stayed as a per-diem EMS person, and I volunteered as well. Not everyone got along, and not everyone liked each other. At one time, salaried personnel wore one unique set of turnout gear and volunteers another to set themselves apart. The dynamics of both organizations sometimes caused friction, but that was solved with interpersonal communication. Over time, political circumstances caused the realization that neither division could exist without the other and pushed both salaried (union) and volunteer firefighters to stick together for common goals. Mutual support. On the fireground, there was unified command with one clearly identified leader. Off the fireground, volunteers were corraled by volunteer chain of command and salaried firefighters had their chain of command. Both divisions communicated constantly and trained as one. That's an alternative outcome. Things have changed in the years since I've been gone, but this was a snapshot at the time. It's all what the leadership and participants choose.
 

ff-medic

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I worked there for a time and stayed as a per-diem EMS person, and I volunteered as well.

I started my EMS career with a volunteer EMS agency - rural. About as rural as it gets, and where one gets to really learn EMS ; cause basically you are on your own. Me, as a brand new EMT ; and a CPR Driver ; Nickname was Grandpa. He kept Copenhagen in business.

It was a partly paid "Per Diam' agency, but....the Chief only let certain people do the "Per Diam", and get paid for working. Yes, I would have liked to get paid, but I enjoyed EMS, being in the back of an ambulance, and performing patient care. I was young, and a trauma nut.

Few Medics in the agency. Most call..Key word being most...Were 30 and 40 minutes from the hospital. So you practiced your skills, and your deduction, findoing out what was wrong with the patients. A basically poor county, not alot of tax base, where geriatriac patients made up alot of calls.

Paramedic Class, ??? seven years later. One of my Paramedic Instructors made the comment in class, that Paramedics "make the best detectives". This from meeting with , and assessing medical calls ; taking the vital signs and the patient complaint, and concluding a primary and differential diagnosis. Medical calls is where Paramedics are Paramedics and practice their skills and training, as treatment for trauma is pretty much standard, and only requires mostly skills. Medical calls - Recalling pharmocology, A&P..ect..ect , to help diagnosis and treat the patient. There may not be a treatment in the protocols, but you have to be intelligenct enough so get on thte radio, and say " Hey Doc. Can I do this, or administer this drug instead of what is in the protocols?

Being competant and being knowledgable gets you trust, which earns you respect. Both outside the hospital envorinment, and inside. ER Doctors have to trust, cause if you ever call and ask for "Orders", they will need to know you are doing the right thing, their medical license is on the line.

EMS is not monkey see, monkey do. Some Medics and EMTs get orders, and some do not. The ones that do have a high rating...most generally, among hospital staff.

Necuron ( sp?? ) , chest decompressions, trachs..ect ; all require the ER doc to be confident in his Medics. Turning the patient over to the floor nurse, or ER nurse requires the Paramedic / EMT , to give a full and undestanding report of events, from teh time on scene - to the ER. That nurse, most times, briefs the doctor ; and the patient care report follows that patient to the floor - surgery - CCU, ect. Just like the report = sloppy report writing, and verbal communication with the nurse means care was sloppy, HOWEVER - it takes time and practice to do both effectively and correctly. I would not expect a new Medic or EMT to be pristine in report writing and patient turnover. It takes practice.....just like any another EMS skill to perfect and correctly do both, and have the confidence in them


FF - Medic !!!
 
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ff-medic

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Things have changed in the years since I've been gone, but this was a snapshot at the time. It's all what the leadership and participants choose.
People who do wrong, misuse, mistreat , or are generally in error ; don't make nearly as mad as the upper level people who knowingly "Let them get by with it." Then they show off their great leadership and management skills by saying " Uhhhh, I did not know." "It was not me."

People want to be in charge, have a nice salary, but do not want to stand " up to the plate" , when something goes wrong. Thats a gas leak working its way to a pilot light.

Ought to " Cook em both."

FF - Medic !!!
 

902

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I spent over a decade living out past a regular response time before I vested out and moved back into a medium-sized city (we needed to have a few stores and places within walking distance so we didn't have to drive so far into town as we get older). Average response time to incidents in my old neighborhood was 38 minutes, so I got flagged down on several occasions. It was enough to go get my EMT-B card back (I was an EMT-P, but expired in the 90's).

Yep, paralytics like vecuronium and sux, and advanced skills need competency and proficiency. Heck, some of the things I read from my friends who are still in the field, there's a big proficiency gap with basic skills, too. It's leadership. Same thing with the consolidations. A good leader at the top will motivate his or her good people. A poor leader will settle for mediocrity and will always have a finger to point at someone. Hope the OP will have a good leader at the helm.
 

riccom

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I can name a few, New Orleans fire department has just one fire department for the whole parish, even outside city limits so its not very big, but does the trick, Another one that comes to mind is Klamth County Oregon, they have one Big fire department, broken in to districts, and all paid by city and county taxes, it works well if the settings are there, just working on kinks to make it happen, St tammany has the same thing except covington fire is on there own the rest are parish owned, and broken in to districts, now one county for one undistriced fire department will be kinda messy, depending on the population and manpower that is there for them! but alot depends on geography and demographics!
 

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Back to the original question, Honolulu, Hawaii fire dept. covers the entire island of Oahu, population close to 1 million. The same is true with Honolulu PD as Honolulu is setup as a city-county for the entire island. The other major fire dept. on Oahu is Federal Fire, as there are many military bases scattered around the island.
 

BoxAlarm187

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"In-Fighting". Lemme guess....whom is going to be in charge, and whom is going to make the decisions? Whom gets to do this and whom gets to do that? Outside Liason? Class? Schools? Promotions? Politics within the department? Favortism? Good-Ole-boy program?
....

It happens in alot of the stations nationwide.
Yes, but not to the extent that it does in the county that was mentioned in the previous post. As I said, they're an exception to the rule when it comes to firefighting. We're talking about multiple stations each making 3000+ runs per year in a single county, pride in departments that's second-to-none, and some off-the-wall stuff that happens every day that would probably get us kicked out of our own departments.

This ain't about some accusing someone else of the yearly raffle being rigged, this is about some of the busiest fire stations in the US trying to learn to play well with one another, and between the career and volunteer staff as well.
 

BCFlash

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Another one department county is Carson City, Nevada, which is city-county. The old Ormsby County was merged with Carson City many years ago. One fire dept., combo paid/volunteer, covers the area. The Sheriff is still the elected law enforcement chief and its still called a sheriff's office. The State and Federal gov't also have wild land fire stations in the area.
 

N4DES

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Palm Beach County FR has absorbed all but 7 FD's in the County and dispatch for all but 3 of those 7 (Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, and Delray Beach). The County is the largest in Florida (44x42 miles) and they cover the highest majority by either contract (Jupiter, Lantana, Wellington, Royal Palm Beach, just to name a few) and all of the unincorporated areas in the rest of the County.

Their centralized dispatch is provided free of charge to any agency requesting it and has been more popular than agency absorbition, but with municipal budgets shrinking there may be more in the future requesting it.
 

KK4ELO

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our county has five disricts on one channel. it sucks

1) because all depts. have a mutual aid agreement for structure fires. one district gets a call, the other four sends one tanker to assist. this being said some of us have to leave our pager in open recieve to hear the page for mutual aid. and when you have people that like to key their radio up and play on it at 2 am, its kinda hard to sleep. we have went to mdc1200 on the "dept. issued" radios, but there are too many renegade radios floating around that are not.


2) when you have two or more depts. on a fire at the same time, the channel gets a bit cluttered because some dont know how to switch to fireground.
 
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