Ville questions the exclusion of automatic aid | News

VSThe arefree contract with Rural Metro is set to expire next year and, after observing the evolution of the Cave Creek fire department, city administrator Gary Neiss asks what it would take for Carefree to be included in the regional automatic help system.

Neiss sent a letter to the Life Safety Council executive committee, which ultimately decides who can be a part of automatic help, detailing what resources Carefree has and how they could be of help. Neiss said he couldn’t find a reason why Carefree would be left out when his station is similar to other municipalities that have been accepted.

“From what I understand, you sent 11 firefighters from Rural Metro to a short training program. Carefree would love the same opportunity and we would love to have automatic help, ”said Neiss, summarizing his letter, which was sent on Oct. 15 and has yet to receive a response.

“We have it all here. We have the fire station, we have a fire truck, we have all the equipment – and I invite you to come and audit our equipment – but we have everything here to support automatic help and complete the system. I would like to send my firefighters to this abbreviated academy that you send these other firefighters to.

Being part of the automatic help system means that the nearest station can respond to an emergency, regardless of jurisdictional lines, resulting in faster response times. Most emergency calls relate to medical emergencies, not fire. So, a shorter response time can mean the difference between life and death.

Neiss said that around 15 years ago, Carefree contracted with Rural Metro so that the city could build and equip a fire station to meet National Fire Protection Association standards, Rural Metro would provide the workforce. work. With the contract set to expire in June, the city formed an advisory subcommittee to review all fire protection options. The committee is made up of eight community volunteers who operate outside of the board to find information without the influence of any bias or agenda.

Neiss said that by looking at alternatives, using Carefree’s existing Rural Metro firefighters, giving them additional training, and doing a few updates to their existing equipment to meet the demands of automatic help appears to be the most cost effective and sensible option.

“We actually asked the City of Scottsdale Fire Department to do an audit of our fire station and they said, ‘You have everything you need.’ We have a lot of things that are needed to support the automatic help system, ”said Neiss. “So in terms of our investment, it’s really minimalist. This involves training firefighters and modernizing the radio system.

Unlike Cave Creek, Carefree is in a better position because it owns the assets. Neiss said the city has spent millions to fund the department. Dennis Rohrman, fire chief for Carefree Rural Metro, said virtually everything in the building – and the building itself – belongs to the city.

“The only thing we have is the staff and the uniforms we wear,” Rohrman said. “Everything else belongs to the city. They have invested a lot of money in this program from 2004 to today to make the program truly stand-alone.

Rohrman said the station is almost identical to what one would find at Daisy Mountain or Scottsdale stations. He said the station also has a compression system that can be used to fill oxygen tanks on site. He added that until recently the Scottsdale Fire Department did not have one and used Carefree. Neiss said it was another example of how first responders lean on and help each other no matter where the county lines are drawn. Neiss said it’s this kind of cooperation and strengths that make Carefree a reasonable candidate for automatic help.

According to Rohrman, Carefree has sought mutual aid from Scottsdale nine times in 15 years. It would not be difficult for Carefree to be part of the automatic help system. Rohrman said the Carefree Fire Department often answered calls in North Scottsdale and Cave Creek, without hesitation. He felt that joining the automatic help system would be better for Carefree as well as neighboring areas.

One of the potential reasons for the system’s denial is the station’s 15-year-old fire truck, but Rohrman said they were working on securing a new truck but had to take a break when the pandemic began. COVID-19 has struck. Anyway, the equipment of the truck is up to standard.

He cited another reason for the refusal. The automatic assistance system requires at least four firefighters per engine. Carefree has exactly enough to meet this requirement, but, if someone is sick or injured, the Life Safety Council says it’s understandable to have fewer people temporarily.

However, Neiss has received public criticism for writing to the Life Safety Council. A letter made public was sent to city staff and the media stating that it was not Neiss’ job to send such a letter and that he did not have the authority to subdue the city at any cost. whether to meet the standards for automatic help.

Neiss, who has worked with the city for 20 years, said it was his job to ask questions. He said he doesn’t easily commit to spending the city’s money, but instead tries to educate himself on the cost and next steps. Neiss said he couldn’t negotiate or even plan finances without first having a conversation and finding out what the city should do. Vice Mayor John Crane has confirmed that Neiss is not acting outside the bounds of his job description.

“I would expect him to do that.” I expect staff members to take initiative in their projects and business, ”said Crane. “In this particular case, we’re trying to find out and educate ourselves on automatic versus mutual aid and what we can do to provide the best service at the lowest cost.

Neiss said that despite his interrogation, he feels like he has the door closed in his face. Being a part of Auto Help would be of a huge benefit to Carefree, but there is a lot that can be done to make that happen. Neiss said he took the first step by inquiring about the Life Safety Council, but without a response from him, the city has no way to move forward.

“If a municipal organization like Carefree is using public funds to invest in a fire and emergency services program with additional equipment, personnel and training similar to the approach offered to other automatic aid partners , why wouldn’t the partnership be better served with the addition of The Carefree Investment? This is the question I am asking. Rather than receive an answer, I am under attack for asking the question, ”said Neiss.

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