The Canandaigua, NY Fire Department is facing a 50% reduction in personnel very soon. This is a combination department with 18 career and about 16 volunteer members.

On duty staffing is 3 career FFs to man two engines and a Quint.

Here are two links detailing the story:

The city council is hoping that volunteers will step in to cover the manpower shortages. They also expect to tap surrounding volunteer departments for mutual aid resources.

Whiskey Tango Fox, over?

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Mutual-aid was NEVER meant to solve another communities politcal problems, or impose their budget short-falls on the services of another department. It would seem the department they are counting on is just as minimally staffed as this one. Always expect the politicians to show the numbers to make it seem the firefighters are blood-sucking the city dry. How about a new approach? If the politicians are so damned community and civic-minded, then THEY should serve without any salary, or benifits! It doesn't take any degree of ability to sit on council, they can be infirmed and do it.

Usually it's the idea of some hardware-store owner -mayor or councilman who becomes an instant expert on fire protection and labor negotiaitons. Not too many years ago it was THE fashionable thing to do for a politician...or a wanna-be politician to pose with the local firefighters and show their alligence with the communitie's first responders, to make themselves look to be with the 'good guys'. NOW they wanna gut every contract, and in the case of combination department's, force the volunteer group to take on all the responsibility. In many communities, the reason for combination departments is the demographics locally don't provide for a large enough volunteer group, or an acceptable response time, or both.

However it never makes sense ( to me0 when small departments such as this try to take every piece of apparatus on alarms, and staff each vehicle with only driver. Effeciancy is lost, big time. Operating ONE company, putting all three of the on-duty personnel on one first-due engine or Quint can provide a much improved service. But that isn't the issue here. The issue is that it seems locally, several people will be forced to the unemployment line, the fire protection, and first-due responder protection will suffer, the neighboring communitiy will be held responsible to double thier responses and bail-out this town. I highly doubt the 40% figure is acurate too.

These firefighter jobs are in no way safe anymore, and in fact you have a large amount of the public who could care less. If it DOES pass, then I can only hope the spared firefighters provide the community with what it deserves...much less fire protection. Sorry, but in NO way should the on-duty crews attempt to make up for the shortages. Give 'em what they want! Through a stream through the window and wait until whom ever finally shows up.
This could be a ploy on the part of the city officials to re-negotiate the contract with the fire department, I don't know.

I do know that with the 3 or 4 person on-duty strength this department has made some mighty fine fire stops through the years.

And the closest mutual aid volunteer departments have at best a 10 minute response time to the city.

I hope the city officials pull their heads out and figure a way to keep what they have.
The city council is hoping that volunteers will step in to cover the manpower shortages. They also expect to tap surrounding volunteer departments for mutual aid resources.

There in lies the problem, they are "hoping" volunteers will step in. Sounds like another nice decision on a local council where the cart is placed before the horse and no solid plan has been established. Let's just cut FF and "hope" volunteers step up. Maybe they will, maybe they won't, but the reason why you see more and more depts having career positions is because in many cases volunteers can't run the calls. Vollies still have day jobs, family and so forth, let alone the nagging problem of recruitment and retention of volunteers, this is really a poorly though out idea. I also agree with Jeff here, they should not solely be relying upon mutual aid. There probably was a reaso they had FT FF's, perhaps the tools need to be reminded why...unfortunately that is usually at the cost of someone else.
The entire concept of mutual aid is contained in the word "mutual".
First of all, there has a be a formal mutual aid agreement between departments. They can be entered into and they can be nullified. I wouldn't rely on them solely.
Secondly, why would I want to enter into an agreement that I know is going to place alot more wear and tear on my firefighters, my equipment and my taxpayers. THIS is NOT mutual aid; it's using what isn't your's to use.
It is tantamount to attempting to siphon off fire service from someone else without paying or repaying.
I'm a strong proponent of mutual aid, but it is a partnership.
Someone like Joe needs to educate that backwards city council on finance and on mutual aid.
It doesn't work the way that they want it to.
Recently, the large city(1M) around here was going o approve a large residential development. But the small city(35K) was going to end up being first due because of automatic aid agreements. The small city has threatened, and probably would, pull out of this agreement if they were forced to supply emergency services without getting the tax-base from this development.

I would think that the surrounding communities there would view this the same. Aid agreements need to be symbiotic and not parasitic.
Here is an interesting article from last week.
It makes perfect sense.
I have been saying for years that we need to tear down boundaries and focus on quickest delivery of services.
For the Regiser-Mail:
Here's another story of fire department/city budget woes.
Opening of new station put on hold and the building of another station is up in air.
From Bloomington, IL :
When we hear about cuts the firefighter in us jumps immediately right on board with NO. I did some research and read this FD Annual Report and a paid 2007 consultant study. It appears they run about 1500 calls per year, not a fire based transporting EMS agency and out of the 1500 calls it was noted the matrix report stated a 1000 were EMS related. So from a response standpoint they must run as EMT first responders on every EMS call regardless of the nature or severity...

Now around here, fire departments that run 1000 TRUE fire calls without any EMS are pretty much all volunteer. They may have a paid chief or chief/code enforcement to justify his job but the troops are for the most part vollie. Then at the beginning, they start out with 1 or 2 daytime monday-friday firefighter positions and go back to 100% volunteer at night.

The services provided by 3 on duty personnel are at best limited but quick on paper, my suggestion to keep the manpower you have is buy an ambulance and start billing thus justifying your existance with monetary value of revenue generation. Fire based EMS does make smaller fire departments who have tax base issues less of a burden on the community tax base.

The mutual aid thing is not going to work, especially as the report discusses how this department has been allienated by the surrounding towns and removed from run cards. Mutual Aid is not meant to support my neighbors lack of tax base on a daily basis.
We have a great mutual aid relationship in this corner of the state.
Interim Chief Tom Simkins has always been a forward-thinking guy and has nothing but quality of service at heart.
GFD will respond initially. The VFD will also be paged as well. Basically, Galesburg will take care of business until the VFD gets there. No loss of tax dollars, no charges for services and no boundaries will change.
Weird, huh?
But true.
Sounds like you did your homework on this and yes, they do run a lot of first responder calls. Their fire coverage area is larger than the city itself but they have scaled back EMS operations to within city limits. They also have limited their EMS responses to life threatening emergencies WHEN there is a EMT or CFR on duty.

There is a combination ambulance service in town that does all of the transporting so buying an ambulance isn't an option.

Relying on surrounding departments for automatic mutual aid isn't really an option either. The average distance from city center to the outlying volunteer departments is about 6 miles. Under the best of conditions that equates to a 10 to 15 minute response time. Add ice or snow to the response routes and... you get the idea.
As I read the article, people will contract with the city for protection outside the city. There will probably be some who will and some who won't. Keeping track of who is signed up and who is not could be a logistical nightmare for the 911 center.

That aside, I think the idea is excellent. We need to always consider the public first and foremost, and make sure they have the best service available.
Nice homework FETC. I will admit I did no such homework and I do tend to react as you say when it comes to cuts. In this case though, my biggest issue isn't about the cuts, but how the council here states they "hope" volunteers step up. To me, that is not putting much thought into the issue of fire protection and as Art mentions, mutual aid is supposed to be mutual. I do agree with the EMS of which could be the difference in justifying FT FF's.

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