Monday, March 21, 2016

Re-examining City of Pensacola Fire Service...Not enough in 2011, Same in 2016

With the discussion ongoing regarding City and County Fire Automatic Aid, I thought it appropriate to look back to the beginning of the Hayward administration to see how fire service has changed.

According to Chief Schmitt in 2011 the fire department size was already at its limit BEFORE an AUTOMATIC AID agreement.  Automatic aid will just result in the City being even more vulnerable should a PFD unit respond to a County issue.

Below is a 2011 InWeekly article on the City's Fire service.  Read it please.  Since then the Airport Fire Station has been downsized even more.

2011...Understaffed then
2016...Hayward and Olson are negligent if they pursue automatic aid.

"City officials often brag on the “world-class” Pensacola Fire Department. It was one of the major selling points for consolidation. What isn’t mentioned publicly is that 60 percent of the city’s fire stations are undermanned to the point that they don’t meet national fire safety standards. Precious minutes are being lost as multiple stations are having to be called in to fight fires before crews can enter burning structures."

Three men aren’t enough for a crew to enter a burning structure, according to the fire safety standards of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA rules mandate that a firefighter cannot enter a burning structure alone. OSHA Rule 1910.134(g)(4)(ii) also requires two men to be outside a burning structure while two firefighters are inside so that if the men inside the building get in trouble they can be rescued by their co-workers. The three-man Pensacola fire crews must wait for another crew to arrive before any firefighters can handle an emergency inside the burning building or they violate OSHA rules.

The stations that are understaffed are Station 2, off Davis Highway, Station 3, on Summit Boulevard, and Station 4, located on North Q Street. The downsizing included the elimination of 12 fire positions over the past three years.

“The service that citizens are getting is three men showing up at a fire in the first five to seven minutes and then possibly 10 minutes (later) another truck may be able to get there,” said DeWeese. “Residential fires are the most dangerous fires in comparison. Every minute in a residential fire, the fire doubles.”

Interim Pensacola Fire Chief Matt Schmitt confirmed DeWeese’s statements concerning fire station staffing. “We’ve downsized with the budgets of every other city department here trying to make it through the economic hard times we are in,” Schmitt explained. “Positions were defunded; when someone retired out, we just didn’t hire in.”

Schmitt told the IN that the downsizing has created problems when working simultaneously with large, multiple incidents. “But, we do have a mutual aid agreement with the Escambia County Fire Rescue. We can draw on them for support, but it takes time,” Schmitt continued. “Before the downsizing, we could easily manage two major incidents at the same time. Considering the size and scope of a given incident, that could be extremely difficult at this time.”

Stay with mutual will work for everyone!


George Hawthorne said...

So on top of everything else now the Mayor's administration of the PFD is "dangerous" to citizens of Pensacola. This is life and death!

Unknown said...

FYI- Fire Dept Had to park there 2 rescue trucks and use a Freakin Ladder Truck to run those Rescue Calls, All behind Budget Cuts!! 😡

Anonymous said...

And this folks is where the Mayor is finding all the money for his fluff projects, over $5 million spent with outside attorneys in town (so that no major law firm could ever take a citizen case against the City) all while maintaining City attorneys and their assistants at high $$$ salaries for doing NOTHING. How did you think he funded his City administrator and now two Assistant City Administrators? It wasn't in the budget. He just moves the money around like a shell game and leaves us with the Fire and Police Protection that we once had. It needs to stop. Thank you Maren for digging into this research and letting us know the truth.

Anonymous said...

spelling correction "without" leaves us without the Fire and Police Protection that we once had.

Anonymous said...

Hayward used the PFD to get elected the first time and he's done nothing but gut and misuse the fire department since. Of course he had the assistance of people like Colleen Castille, Greg Donovan, Ed Sisson, Rusty Wells and Dick Barker. City administration has negatively impacted the following areas over the years: staffing, pay, pension, ALS, reorganization, airport staffing, rescue trucks, 6 yr interim chief, station 3 mold, and race discrimination. Did I miss something? Hayward has continually lied throughout both terms about addressing many of these issues and is directly responsible for them.

The only times Hayward cares about the fire department is during photo ops; when there's a disaster; when trying to sell the citizens on the Local Option Sales Tax; if he's using the fire department to get a new community center built next to his residence to raise his property value; or if someone in his family needs help. Otherwise, he couldn't care less about public safety. Don't take my word for it, just look at the lack of response after the tornado. Hey Ashton, just because the firemen gave you a firefighter helmet doesn't make you Mayor Guliani.

Anonymous said...

Automatic Aid with already depleted resources? What is the "new" interim fire chief saying about this? Sounds like a win for county residents and a resounding loss for city tax payers.

Anonymous said...

The 3 Amigos (Barker, Wells, and Coby) have had a longstanding hatred towards the fire dept. In addition, they each had a role in dismantling the department. They were key to cultivating and perpetuating the racism that started from city hall. Yes, Al Coby is black but he was beloved by city hall because of how he covered up racism. Ironically, he's the odd man out now. Maybe because city administration had no more use for him after his many years of ensuring that blacks stay in their place. On a side note, very few people in the black community would ever accuse Al Coby of being black.