A DEPARTMENT GETS BETTER
“The one constant we can rely on is change,” Donis said in her letter to the Fire Department family.
Let’s take a closer look at some of that change in 2015. The department:
· Hired 13 lateral firefighters (“lateral” means they came here from other fire departments).
· Opened a new truck company, giving Fresno its second two-company station (engine and ladder-truck).
· Saw minimum daily staffing rise from 70 to 73 firefighters.
· Implemented a plan to replace the entire fleet, including engines and trucks, within eight years.
· Hosted a high-rise fire drill, the first since 2006.
· Got council approval for a wellness program for department members.
· Bought more property so Station 18 (west of Highway 99) can eventually have a one-story permanent home.
· Held the department’s first entry-level firefighter exam since 2007.
· Started the bureaucratic ball rolling for either a brand new fire shop (repairs, etc.) or a modernized fire shop.
To me (an admitted outsider), one of the department’s most impressive feats in 2015 was its work with other city departments during the Summerset Village Apartments crisis in November.
The city’s emergency manager for a while was a civilian located in the City Manager’s Office. Then the position got moved back to Fire. Lots of City Hall and community leaders helped fix the Summerset problem in a hurry. I saw the Fire Department in the thick of things from the beginning.
Donis in her letter also lists the organizational changes approved by the City Council on Dec. 17. The additions are:
· $200,000 for training.
· 1 deputy chief.
· 2 captains.
· 1 firefighter specialist.
· 1 firefighter.
· 3 battalion chiefs.
· 1 senior storekeeper for personal protective equipment.
“We were blessed when Pete courageously walked out of that hospital and is recovering each day,” Donis wrote in her department letter. “The solid character of our membership as a whole rallied together on many levels, for each other, and for Pete and his family.
“From this incident the forthcoming SART report will frame our organizational improvement opportunities, allowing us to take steps forward to be a safer, healthier and better equipped fire department.”