Assitsant Chief Kirk Beattie
SAFETY, HEALTH AND WELLNESS
In 2012, we were awarded a FEMA Federal Grant of $94,000 to add a full sprinkler and alarm system to our Central Station. This new alarm system will make our 24/7 station much safer by alerting our members to smoke or fire and allowing for time to escape. Also the sprinklers, if activated, will help suppress a small fire and keep it from spreading, also allowing members to escape the danger.
Unfortunately, 2012 saw an increase in the number of member on-duty injuries and exposures, however, most proved to be low in severity. We completed a review and analysis of all incidents and, where appropriate, required refresher training and review of policies and procedures. A full risk management report was completed, looking at local and national statistics, and presented to the City Manager in a discussion concerning department staffing.
In the spring of 2012, we evaluated, tested and trained with different types of firefighter”bail-out” systems. We will be purchasing this safety equipment for all department members with grant funding. Also, we reviewed our hearing protection equipment and ordered some additional sets of high decibel protection gear. In May, I represented the Fire Department at the Annual Primex Risk Management and Health and Wellness Seminar. This was a 2 day seminar for municipal leaders to learn ideas and strategies for promoting safe and healthy behaviors of employees.
We continue to hold department Safety Committee meetings as needed. We also attend the monthly City Wide Safety meetings at City Hall. Finally, in 2012 we participated in Firefighter Safety and Survival Week by completing a full inspection of all members gear and completing a training segment on firefighter rescue and removing superheated gear from a rescued firefighter.
This fall, members of the Laconia Fire Department participated in Lakes Regional General Hospital Senior Safety Day. Our firefighters visited homes of elderly residents in our community to check and/or install smoke detectors and batteries. They also checked and gave information about carbon monoxide and CO detectors. Additionally, they distributed injury prevention and fire safety literature as well as checked homes for fire safety practices.
Deputy Roffo and I continue to work with the State of NH in setting up the Annual CPAT testing held at the Laconia Ice Arena. Each year over 200 current and prospective firefighters test their physical endurance by taking this nationally recognized firefighter skill hands-on test.
I continue to stay in contact with members and representatives of Laconia’s refugee population as the emergency services liaison. This past fall, we held a classroom fire safety lecture with the help of an interpreter from the Bhutanese community. Following this, I performed home visits with individuals and families to look at their homes and apartments to see that fire safe practices are followed. We also discussed injury prevention and health and safety practices. These visits were very popular and welcome, and I enjoyed meeting so many friendly and interesting families.
Also, under the public relations aspect of my job, I am the Vice President of the Board of Directors of Genesis Behavioral Health and the emergency services liaison to the behavioral health community. We have had the Director of Genesis come to our station to talk to our members about how state budget cuts affect community mental health services and how some of the extra burden will fall on local EMS and police officers. Through this position I have been able to link some of our community members with services such as help in hoarding situations. In this upcoming year, I plan to visit the group homes of Genesis to pass along a fire safety and injury prevention program.
The Chief Officers of this department continue to teach classes for the incoming CERT Teams (community emergency response) and are also guest lecturers for the Fire Science program at the Lakes Region Community College.
Members of the Laconia Fire Department each year continue to be involved in the New Hampshire Camp “Fully Involved”, which is one of the largest and most popular girl’s fire camps in the country. Young women ages 14-19 come to NH in August at the NH Fire Academy to test their courage and learn some hands-on firefighting skills. This popular program has attracted young ladies form across the country and other continents!
This past spring, as in previous years, I enjoyed getting involved in the elementary schools’ literacy project. I read to the second graders of the Elm St. and Pleasant Street schools and spent some time discussing my love of reading books and answered questions about being a firefighter. I look forward to these presentations every year.
In 2012 we logged nearly 5000 hours of training by all of our members here at LFD. Some of the more notable trainings included:
- Hundreds of hours of FEMA grant-funded technical rescue training including rope rescue, rescue skills, rescue systems II, confined space rescue, trench rescue, swift water rescue, swift water boat operator and fireground survival classes
- Self-rescue and bail-out systems
- Training on hoarding homes
- Training and refresher on Methamphetamine labs
- High-hazard alarms and special building operations
- Hands-on classes in venting, wall-breaching, roof work, ladder work, etc. in 3 acquired structures
- Ten members attended hundreds of hours of classroom sessions to become Advanced EMTs
- High rise operations classroom and practical drill
Additionally, the Chief Officers continue to attend meetings and trainings in community emergency preparedness, public health emergencies, MACE preparedness, NIMS and other emergency management offerings to help keep us prepared for disasters and other large-scale events. On a state level, we attend State Health Officer trainings, Electrical Safety and Licensing training, NH Mobilization Task Force training, IMAT response training and NH Association of Fire Chiefs meetings and training. Nationally, I was invited to attend a National Symposium on the “Changing Severity of Home Fires” along with the NH State Fire Marshall. We are putting together a training program to teach across the state to bring this information from NIST, NFPA, and UL to help keep firefighters safer in today’s new fire environment. Also, I attended the 2012 Fire Rescue International Conference in Denver Colorado and received training on fire service diversity, leadership, fire service law and social media and ethical practices in today’s fire service.
Despite the fact that our emergency call volume increased by more than 10% in 2012, we continue to make training a priority and find the time to study, practice and drill.
In 2012, I wrote and was awarded a federal SAFER grant for $643,000 to add four more firefighter/EMTs to our department roster and increase the number of responding personnel. Unfortunately, at this time the City Council voted not to accept the funding.
In May of last year Lakes Region General Hospital hosted an EMS banquet and members of Platoon four received a Unit Citation for a life-saving response during a winter storm. We are very proud of their commitment to service.
Chief Erickson awards certificates to members of our department each year. In 2012, one third of our firefighters had perfect or nearly perfect attendance. Now that’s dedication! Also, our members continue to hold a cardiac arrest save rate among the best in the state and probably the country among their prehospital peers. Deputy Riley evaluates this number frequently and we have rates as high as 24%. The national average is about 6%.
Last year, a committee was formed to research and spec out a new front line engine. Several department members spent many hours researching, evaluating and planning for our new engine to be bid on and delivered in 2013. Thank you to the Fire Apparatus Committee.
This past year, we were able to bring back a part-time fire prevention secretary to assist Trish, our full-time administrative assistant, and Deputy Roffo of the Fire Prevention bureau. Welcome to Barbara! Other personnel news includes the 25 year anniversary of Senior FF/EMT-P Dave Monasky on February 15th and the retirement of Capt./EMT-P William Drew. Late last year we re-instated the part-time fire inspector position and ret. Capt. Bill Drew took over that new role. Finally, in 2012 we hired four new probationary FF/EMTs to fill vacated positions.
Laconia Fire Department members continue to be the busiest in the Lakes Region and the seventh busiest in the State of New Hampshire as far as the number of emergency incidents per member. We continue to have high training hours along with many hours of mechanical inspections, fire pre-planning, high-risk occupancy familiarization and public education. There is not a lot of “down time” here. I am proud to say that I work with a very dedicated, well-trained and professional group of men and women here in the City of Laconia.