With all the media attention surrounding the International
City/County Management Association
(ICMA) report and proposed changes it suggests be made to Garden City's fire department, Chief Charles Cavarra addressed residents at the Sept. 20 village board meeting, stating all four chiefs, including himself, have 20+ years of service to the village and would not make any decisions that would jeopardize the safety of those who live and work here.
Chief Cavarra read the following statement regarding the ICMA report:
the direction of the Board of Trustee’s of the Incorporated Village of
Garden City (BOT) the Chief’s office has reviewed the International
City/County Management Association (ICMA) Report.
November of 2011, the BOT secured funding to have an independent fire
department consultant (ICMA) review the department operation. The
report was commissioned as a result of ongoing debate as to how the fire
department should be operated. The feeling was if an outside
consulting firm was brought in and provide us with their finding, the
results of that report could be used as a guide to provide the Village
with a new and improved more efficient and effective fire department.
The ICMA report was delivered to the Village in early August. The
Chiefs office has studied and reviewed the information contained in the
report. There is a tremendous volume of information in the report, and
the Chiefs office is now tasked with taking the recommendations,
dissecting them and deciding how they can be modified and applied
specifically to Garden City.
On Aug. 6, all fire department dispatching duties were turned over to Nassau County Firecom
, a move Chief Cavarra called a "no-brainer."
dispatching, since we switched over Aug. 6, has exceeded expectations," he said. "It
has reduced our response time to anywhere in the village to less than three
minutes. It also provides us with a chain of custody we never used to
He said the department used to receive alarms via numerous avenues - 911, a call from police, a call from a resident and/or a call from an alarm company.
is now transferred to Firecom, which is staffed minimally with four
dispatchers and a supervisor," he said. "That's their minimal staff. They have up to 14
Chief Cavarra noted that the department's response time prior to the switch averaged "eight or nine minutes" and that using Firecom has shaved at least five minutes off the current response time.
Since Aug. 6, Firecom has dispatched approximately 200 calls for the village, according to Cavarra. "We've responded in less than three minutes to each," he said, noting non-emergency calls as an exception. "It's astronomically quick."
At a Western Property Owners' Association
(WPOA) meeting in January 2011, ex-Chief Bill Graham said
the department had a "two minute response time."
Patch asked Chief Cavarra to clarify the drastic increase from two minutes to "eight or nine" in that almost two-year period.
"We always started the call when we got it," he said, "so someone could've called 911, the cops would've gotten it, the cops would of called Firecom, Firecom would've picked up the call and called Headquarters company. There was, let's say, another two or three minutes in that period before we actually got the call. Our record started when we got the call."
Firecom, however, keeps record from the "second someone calls," he added. "It's time stamped. That's technically when the call starts."
The ICMA report recognized that the department's record keeping was inaccurate, Cavarra said. "Now we have a chain of custody on the calls with Firecom and it starts with them until the call ends. Firecom does provide us with that consistency," Cavarra said. "Despite the fact that we've added the time period in dispatch time Firecom does it so quickly it has actually reduced response time overall."
Cavarra said the department's fire records weren't "correlating" with Firecom's.
Pete Clancy, president of Local 1588, which represents Garden City’s professional firefighters, told Patch Wednesday tha the career force has found the ICMA report to contain inaccurate information.
"As public servants entrusted with protecting the properties and lives of
the residents of the Village of Garden City, we welcome any
constructive criticism and introduction to avenues of improvement," Lt. Clancy said. "Chief
Cavarra has stated that the ICMA report will be used as a guideline or
road map for improvement. At this time the chiefs office is
examining/evaluating the report."
At the August village board meeting Lt.
the services of the career force so that a comparison of
the information compiled by the career force and the information from
the ICMA report could be performed.
"We will make available to any person the
information that we have compiled, so that they can perform their own
comparison," he said, adding that the closing of the satellite
stations and reductions in staff will jeopardize public safety.
actions in our opinion may provide a cost savings to the village, but in
no way should they be considered an improvement," he said. "We are hopeful that when village officials make their evaluations of
the ICMA report, that they review the inaccuracies we found before
implementing additional recommendations."
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