Below is a partial copy of a article in the Buffalo News(Buffalo New York) -Buffalo New York Fire Department has a chance to create a revenue stream for their Department. They have been duplicating this service for years by answering every squad call in the City. Now they have a chance to do what they all know is best for the taxpayers of Buffalo.

Buffalo needs to take over the ambulance service and stream that income back into a cash strapped Departments budget ! ? The Mayor and Cittistats Members have been actively working with B.F.D. Admin to solve their money issues.

Well guys and Gals - here's your chance - grab it and remove those who say it can't be done ! Or, sit back and watch another chance to grow a department fade away because of "Political/Admin." interference.


Firefighters prepared to step in if ambulance workers strikeBy Maki Becker and Brian Meyer -- News Staff Reporters
Updated: 10/09/08 11:49 AM
Firefighters are prepared to provide additional emergency services in the unlikely event that workers who provide ambulance service in Buffalo go on strike, city officials confirmed today.


"Cutler said City Hall was keeping close tabs on the situation and that contingency plans have been discussed. City firefighters are already first responders to emergency calls and can provide basic life support services. Cutler said that in the unlikely event Rural/Metro employees stage a job action, firefighters would expand their emergency services duties.
"There's definitely a back-up plan in place, but we don't think there will be any need to implement it," Cutler said this morning.
Fire Commissioner Michael S. Lombardo said about half of all firefighters are emergency medical technicians, while the rest are certified first responders.
"We're going to do whatever we need to do to make sure the citizens of Buffalo are safe," said Lombardo, adding that he has been in touch with Rural/Metro officials.
Rural/Metro is Buffalo's exclusive provider of ambulance service. It also provides emergency medical services to many neighboring localities, including Niagara Falls, Lockport, Medina and the towns of Cheektowaga, Hamburg and Evans.
In July, the membership strongly rejected a proposal advanced by a federal mediator. As the labor dispute festered throughout the summer, Rural/Metro officials downplayed the possibility of a strike. What's more, they gave assurances that the company would work closely with "municipal partners," nursing homes and local hospitals to try to avoid service disruptions in the event of a walkout.
Both sides have said over the last few months that they hope to avoid a strike.

mbecker@buffnews.com, bmeyer@buffnews.com[/size]

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Sounds like RM wants to take it's ball and go home before the game is over. The one drawback would be the initial investment would be in equipment and supplies. With over half of the ff already trained as emt's they have some of the manpower situation in control. The ball is in RM's court. They can say we provide a service and should be compensated as such. But the city can say yes you do but not as much as you think, and besides we could replace you if we wanted to.Rejecting a proposal from a federal mediator does not make them look good either.
Sounds like a bunch of bs and a big headache for all involved here, I would not want to be in their shoes.
What you are promoting is not very union friendly especially to Members of Teamsters Local 375. I don't think the IAFF Local 282 would support this move either. If you are with either of these organizations then please enlighten the rest of us as to their position if I am incorrect.
First , I don't pretend to speak for anyone but myself.

That said, This isn't a "Union" thing - its about "Public Service" - if the Ambulance service operations can help secure and expand our Department , thats the issue.

Not considering a revenue expanding situation , one that won't soley fall one the taxpayers sholders has more bearing on this discussion.

I also asked anyone with other ideas to come and discuss them - why does it now have to be a "Anti-anything" question ?
Come on guys/gals - can't we do any better ?
Rick, here are some thoughts that I have on this discussion. Just so you know, I'm not advocating anything, just letting my fingers type what my brain feeds them.

First, there is a Certificate of Need for an ambulance service to provide EMS and transport services within the city. In whose name is the CON - the city, the FD, or Rural Metro? It's great that half the BFD members are EMT-Bs but unless all the requirements are met for a transporting service, they aren't going to be able to do much other than wait on scene for an ambulance to cart the patient off to the hospital.

Suppose R/M decides to pull out of the city, assuming they could do so legally per the New York State Department of Health. The BFD proposes to start its own ambulance service. What has to happen is:

BFD obtains the CON for the ambulance service
BFD buys a fleet of ambulances ($$$), stocks them ($$) and has them all NYS certified
BFD hires a medical director for the service
BFD hires/appoints a EMS Chief
EMS Chief has to write procedures and policies including a formal QA/QI process, and get the MD's approval
Pick the stations where the rigs are going to be parked, and figure out staffing
Figure out how to provide advanced life support service to the city when needed (the ALS folks will need to be EMT-P or -CC certified)

There will be a significant cost and time period spent getting this up and running. I'd assume that if the city got this far the admins would elect to save money, and just rob the trained EMTs off of engine and truck crews to staff the ambulances. Just the same way they used to run the rescue squads in the 60s and 70s.

One final thought: It may be a revenue stream, however I'm not sure how lucrative it might be given the initial investment. Here in Central NYS my impression is that the paid ambulance services aren't overly bulging with money. It's usually more like they are just barely hanging on. A number of the people they transport can't or won't pay the bills; I don't know how Medicare/Medicaid fits into this picture; and I know for certain the rates for services rendered are closely watched by NY state. And bill collection is yet ANOTHER department that would have to be set up running.

Oops, another final thought: I think that if a strike happened R/M would have no choice but to end it quickly. I don't know what legal consequences would result if R/M quit responding, but my guess is that R/M would do most anything to avoid them.
Oh - by the way - here EMS stands for Every Minute Sucks.
There is alot of nastalgia and history in belonging to a house or department that does not do EMS transports. There isn't a firefighter anywhere who wouldn't rather be at a working structure than running on the same old "BS" frequent flyer EMS call at 2 or 3 or 4 in the AM. All that being said, this is not about nostalgia or history. It's not about unions, politics, or even about Rural Metro. This is about job security for BFD. In this steadily declining economy, especially in the "RustBelt" part of the country, anything that can be done within reason to justify manpower and scare politicians away from layoffs is a must in my book. The Great lakes region of this country was once a booming economy, but now we are struggling. Good jobs are either closing or moving out of town. This creates a trickle down affect that we feel in the firehouses. We all live next door or down the street from someone who has been laid off or whose home was forclosed. So, saying that to say, in my humble opinion we need to read the writing on the walls and do whatever we can to eastablish some sort of job security. We as firefighters have to bring more to the table. If taking over EMS will help our departments, then we must not just embrace the idea but we must also be aggressively propogating it as well. There are a few medium to larger departments who are just now embarking on some issues that those at smaller departments have factored into their life long ago. that biggest issue is wearing more hats. Many smaller cities mandate that their firefighters are also ALS providers in order to even test for the job. Those smaller cities don't have the luxury of doing one job(ie. nozzle, tiller, irons, etc..) Those departments push their firefighters to do many jobs and wear many hats(i.e. medic, irons, roof, PR, driver, hydrant, etc...) No one is complaining, but our brothers in Buffalo are now walking into the world that the smaller city firefighers have always lived in. I know it may seem cold, but providing a service for the citizens is only half of the issue. Finally, if I were in any position to give advice, I would say, do not settle for a BLS coverage. Demand that the city offer ALS coverage and send firefighters to school to provide it. Sorry for being so long winded, but job security is very important for us and the next generations.
I have to clear up something - I have the greatest respect for every member of RM I ever had the pleasure of working next to and with.

I have over 38 years as a dues paying - active Union Member(U.A.W and B.F.D.282).

That said , I raised the question of "Should Buffalo Fire Department exspand its services?" -
Union Politics aside-
A little background. Around June of 2000 AMR told the City of Reading that they were not renewing their contract and Jan 1, 2001 that they were pulling their equipment out of town, they claimed it was not profitable to remain. The RFD had under 6 months to set up an ALS service to serve the 80000 or so residents of the city. Currently the RFD has 3 ALS units that combined run over 15,000 runs a year. Most of our clients use this service as a Cabulance. Still this is a revenue generating service to the city.

So to answer your question, taking Union Politics out of the equation
Yes, the fire department should look to expand its services.
Toledo and Buffalo are nearly identical in every way. One year ago Toledo began BLS transport. Prior to that we provided BLS and ALS first response by engine companies. We were operating 17 engines, 4 trucks, 2 heavy squads with a daily staffing of 103. Keep in mind we have lost a third of our engines, three quarters of our trucks, and one heavy squad over the past fifteen years. We were operating at near maximum capacity before the ambulances, we had the busiest heavy rescue in the country for many years, our engines respond to 3000 to 5000 runs a piece, and most inner city companies respond to 1-2-3 working fires every day. When the ambulances went into service, our last two heavy squads were taken out of service, and used to staff the transports, along with the several Suburban first response units assigned to outlying and the busiest engine companies. That is how the FD staffed these units and not hire additional personel. These units are making upwards of 20 runs per day and some break into the thirties on some days. but we use a rotation to keep people from riding them every shift. On the upside the 5 rigs have already paid for themselves and have made over 1 million in profit this year. It is hard for the city to "cut" the FD when we are providing a means of income. The 5 rigs are only covering 43% of the total BLS runs. Private ambulance pick up the rest. ALS runs are covered by a county run system. There are plans to add additional transports in the near future.
I believe that fire-based ems is always the best. As for it being a union issue....the IAFF also promotes fire-based ems. We just do it better. We're fighting to keep our ambulances in my dept. We were the first dept. in Louisiana to run ALS ambulances. We are a municipal fire dept. but we provide ambulance service to the whole parish. I've worked for a private service and mostly they suck. We only run 911 calls...no non-emergency transports/transfers. It helps our dept. be more self sufficient...which is a good thing.
If they want it to improve customer service and patient care, then do it. If it is a strictly finacial and politically motivated move because the union is pushing for it. There will be problems

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