"TAKE IT TO THE LIMIT" eagles
Are we at the limit?
I took a commenters advice and called our Fire Chief with some questions concerning the operation of our fire department. Chief Mlachak was very interested in the questions I was asking along with being very direct in his answers. Knowing his position he was more informative then I thought he would be.
I had some questions I had for him and also what I believed some of the answers might be. First off I believed the Fire Department was staffed by nine firefighters on all three shifts. Seems we have only 25 firefighters and when you take in vacations sick leave on the night and most times we only have six per shift. This for the busiest station in the county that does over 2,000 EMS runs a year. Remember many times the runs could overlap leaving the station empty.
When I asked the chief how many of the runs were "taxi" calls to Tri-Point ? The chief feels 25% were calls that shouldn't need an EMS unit. Many people use the emergency room as their primary care service, along with believing if they arrive in an ambulance they receive faster care.
I questioned Chief Mlachak about increasing staffing using part-time firefighters. With his budget approved by council he is only allowed one part-timer per shift. A full time firefighter cost the city approximately $100,000 a year he claims he could have three part timers for the same amount. Starting rate for a part time firefighter in Painesville is $9.85 per hr. other Lake County communities pay as much as $15.00/$16.00 an hour. So why would you even think about applying in Painesville.
Now the past levy we past last year provides the fire department with funds for equipment and upgrades only. At the same time the previous departments budget for equipment goes where?
I agree with the chief that the purchase of Tower 2319 is a useful added piece of equipment for us. Remember it's only a stop gap with a maximum life of ten years. At that time Painesville-Concord hopefully have the financial resources to purchase a new truck with the going price of $1,000,000.
Maybe the chief realizing the truck was needed and painted a prettier picture of the truck? and let's face it what was anybody expecting with a 23 year old truck. In hindsight maybe the chief could have played it safe and told the administration your asking for miracles for a piece of equipment like this at $100,000 ?
Something to remember all departments rely on mutual aid. As a fire is called in dispatching calls for automatic aid to all nearby fire stations. The fire crews are sent out to the fire and the fire department on scene can ask for mutual aid or tell responding fire departments they aren't needed. Painesville sends four firefighter and one truck at the same time our fire department calls in off duty firefighters until the situation normalizes. Fire insurance rate being kept low because with mutual aid you can get the amount of firefighters and equipment to a fire in a reasonable time.. 14 firefighters in eight minutes.
Truth be told the administration should budget the part time firefighters and raise there wage to what is reasonable in Lake County. Something tells me they will get push back on this but what is more important than the safety of our community?
Seems what I learned most of all is our fire chief is born and raised in Painesville and loves the place. But remember he answers to others. He cares, give him the proper resources.
Knowing the numbers it seems rather important that all first responder be trained in first -aid six people can't be everywhere.