.

Report Recommends Leaving Firehouses Unmanned at Night

Analysis suggests eliminating staff at two stations.

An analysis of the Garden City Fire Department's overall performance, as requested by the village board of trustees in late 2011, is now complete.

The last time the village commissioned such a report was back in the 1960s.

The 85-page analysis, provided by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) at a cost of $36,000, provides a "baseline of the performance for Garden City in its delivery of fire services as well as recommendations for continued improvement towards national benchmark performance measures."

The Garden City Fire Department is one of only two “combination” departments comprised of both career and volunteer firefighters on Long Island; the other is Long Beach. The volunteer force has a membership of approximately 100 firefighters, 45 of which are certified as “structural-interior firefighters," according to the report.

In part, the ICMA states that the department often operates more like "two separate departments rather than one for purposes of achieving its mission of serving the citizens of the community." ____________________________________________________________________
To receive breaking news alerts like this, sign up for our free Garden City Patch newsletter, follow us on Facebook and Twitter. ____________________________________________________________________
The report offers 14 recommendations in total, including #6, eliminating staffing at satellite stations located on Edgemere Road and Clinton Road during evening hours; #1, appointing a command captain; and #8, changing dispatch to Firecom.

The rationale for recommendation #6, according to the ICMA report, is based on the "very low nighttime call volume and the ability to transverse the village quicker at night."

The board of trustees has the power to implement all, some or none of the recommendations, according to village administrator Robert Schoelle.

When asked if any of the recommendations were implemented immediately, Schoelle responded "no" and did not offer any further explanation.

Patch, however, has obtained information that confirms trustees directed village staff to have recommendations #6 and #8 implemented immediately.

The board's response, issued on behalf of the Communications Committee of the board of directors, states: "The Board of Directors was provided with the ICMA report on July 26. We are studying it as a group and will be making decisions regarding the report recommendations over time."

Chief Charles Cavarra, who is in Colorado at a chief's convention, did not provide comment at the time of this posting.

The Recommendations
The 14 recommendations are as follows:

1. Appoint a command captain position to assist the volunteer chief and department officers in meeting the administrative requirements of the department.

2. Develop a department strategic plan and have it approved by village administration and elected officials.

3. Conduct a community risk analysis as part of a comprehensive needs assessment.

4. Develop a plan to conduct a self-assessment and become a registered agency in the accreditation process through the Center of Public Safety Excellence, Inc.’s Commission on Fire Accreditation International.

5. Develop written policies and procedures for volunteers responding to incident scenes, with appropriate records for accountability.

6. Eliminate staffing at satellite stations during night hours. Review the necessity for daytime staffing at the satellite stations following the recommended change in dispatching.

7. Increase the number of structural/interior certified volunteer firefighters.

8. Change dispatch to Firecom to improve dispatch/turnout time and allow continued achievement of response time performance.

9. Consider acquisition of CAFS for use on all fire suppression apparatus as part of a vehicle replacement program.

10. Consider implementing low-hazard occupancy fire prevention self-inspection program and voluntary residential safety visits.

11. Consider purchase of NFPA’s Risk Watch® Program for comprehensive life safety awareness.

12. Enforce false alarm ordinance to reduce unnecessary calls for service.

13. Develop public education programs using department data that has been analyzed to identify specific target groups and fire safety problems.

14. Improve communication through the move to Firecom and purchase of portable radios for all personnel.

Do you agree/disagree with any of the recommendations? Let us know in the comments.
Geraldine Moratti August 03, 2012 at 08:53 PM
If we leave only volunteers at these stations we will have every fire truck reporting to a scene eg. A call because an alarm goes off and a block long of fire trucks respond. So unnecessary!!
E.J. ROULETT August 03, 2012 at 09:20 PM
This a particularly dangerous idea, response time is esential, anything that may delay it is tempting fate.
Lara August 03, 2012 at 10:07 PM
i think you'd feel differently if it was YOUR home, moratti.
Jeff Dahmer August 04, 2012 at 05:45 PM
How about a Volunteer Police Department
Lil August 04, 2012 at 08:36 PM
I believe the suggested response time for the first piece of equipment, ( Chiefs car or fire truck) is eight minutes by the National Fire Protection Agency. So what is this report from a government management agency saying? It sounds to me like they are saying that our Fire Department with payed staff is better than the suggested national standard. WELL I HOPE SO!!! I live in Garden City for the best of everything, not just as good. Aren't these the reasons why we also have our own Police Department. Our Village Board better start thinking about maintaining our services, not destroying them. Keep my Fire Department the way it is. I like knowing that there are talented professional firefighters in the station down the block from my home. Mostly at night when I and my family are home. At Night. If money is the issue, and I am sure it is. Stop planting so many Tulips on Franklin Ave. and transfer the money to the Fire Dept.
F.P. August 04, 2012 at 09:09 PM
A Chiefs car is counted as fire equipment? What kind of middle of the country farmland thinking is that? I want a pumper truck and a ladder truck at my house. And I want them there fast.
K Dawg August 04, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Fire Protection in other towns in Long Island don't seem to have a problem with a volley force at night. If you want to have a "professional firefighter" to sleep at the 2 stations just have the vollies do it. They have the same qualifications as the paid firefighters but they are homeowners that live in the community and they do it for nothing. Your response time will not change and plus the most you are getting on an Engine from the outlying station with 2 men..One stays with the truck the other goes in... I never saw in my years of one guy putting out a fire.. Put 4 vollies on rotating shifts and it will not cost you anything.. Just remenber to throw 25 bucks when the guy rings your door bell at fund drive time.. Sounds like a good deal to me. Be advised I have a bias to the vollies because I am a volley in my community (Not GC)
Lynda August 05, 2012 at 12:48 AM
GROWING UP IN A FAMILY OF VOLUNTEER FIREMEN, I HAVE SEEN HOW THE THE VOLUNTEER SERVICE HAS DETERIORATED OVER THE YEARS. THE DEDICATION IS NOT WHAT IT USED TO BE. A LOT OF TRAINING IS REQUIRED AND PEOPLE GET FRUSTRATED HAVING TO GIVE UP SO MUCH OF THEIR FREE TIME. MOST SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES HAVE TO PUT SECOND AND THIRD ALARMS OUT TO GET PEOPLE TO RESPOND AND THAT'S A FACT. GARDEN CITY SHOULD THINK LONG AND HARD BEFORE THEY GIVE UP SOMETHING THAT MOST TOWNS AND VILLAGES WOULD LOVE TO HAVE.
Concerned August 05, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Very dangerous leaving two thirds of the village and our families un protected! Hope the village board of trustees does not move forward with the consultants recommendations. This is a big issue that every resident should let their opionion be heard for ensuring the saftey of their families and home before changes are made.
Paul August 06, 2012 at 01:30 PM
45 active interior firefighters, 2 firehouses to man with your 4 guys per = 8 guys a night. You would need members to volunteer to stay away from their family more than 1 night a week, and go to their own job after staying at the firehouse all night. It may work for a little while, but it will get old real quick.
Carisa Giardino (Editor) August 06, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Recommendation #8 - turning dispatching duties over to Nassau County Firecom - went into effect this morning at 9 a.m.
Cargo Pants August 10, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Just curious why the first 5 recommendations were skipped?? Shouldn't replacing the Captain be a priority?
Concerned August 17, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Better too many than not enough
Concerned August 17, 2012 at 04:33 PM
There is over 300 communities on Long Island, they cannot all be wrong...
gcgcgc August 17, 2012 at 04:52 PM
JTZ, yes, replacing captain first, with the risk assessment and development of strategic plan next. Skipping to 6 and 8 seems like hidden agenda is on cost over public safety. You have to ask why skipping 1 to 5 to 6 & 8? Who benefit? What are the motivations of the decision makers?
thomas stoerger December 19, 2012 at 03:01 PM
While I will admit it is easier to "traverse" the village during the evening hours. Volunteer Firefighters still have to get to there vehicles and respond to the scene. They have no authority under NYS VTL to violate any Motor vehicle laws to do so(Blue Light Law). Also last time I looked most families are home during the evening hours and I'm sure most fires that occur in the private homes are likely during these same hours. I am not complaining about the volunteer fire service but merely stating that with a manned firehouse the first engine can in MOST cases arrive at the scene in the time it takes a VFF to arrive in his car(without the equipment needed to extinguish or possibly rescue a trapped person.