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Consolidation

A friend sent this message after attending one of the six public meeting on the plan to consolidate the current five fire stations into three. You can also read the dotcom article about the first meeting by clicking here.


I just attended the Fire Station Consolidation Meeting at Traverwood and would like to forward some points made at the meeting.
 
This consolidation effort will not reduce the overall staffing, but the remaining stations will not be staffed equally. Currently, 5 stations are staffed with 3 on duty firefighters (plus Battalion Chiefs.) The new model moves to 9 firefighters at Station 1, 8 at Station 2, and only 4 at Station 5. Station 1 & 2 will house at least three various fire trucks and Station 5 will house one engine. The Fire Chief implied the consolidation is partly due to the proximity of fire stations in other jurisdictions. This is being considered a short term project and is expected to happen within 5 months or so.
 
The Fire Chief thinks it is only going to cost about "$10,000-$15,000" to retrofit Station 2 for apparatus exhaust systems but had no concrete figures on the actual costs. Living quarters, two existing bedrooms are presumably adequate to house eight firefighters although the station only housed three around the clock before it closed. Because the building is currently in use by Community Standards, updates to meet code are expected to be minimal.
 
This initially it looks like an overall improvement in the number of responding firefighters, and meant to send a crew of 4 firefighters to a structure fire per NFPA and OSHA standards. Response time maps were shown of the coverage areas as they currently are and how they would look after the consolidation.
 
However, it was later pointed out that 3 firefighters respond plus a Battalion Chief, who is counted as the fourth, respond to the fire. Despite this, the response times were calculated based on the response of a crew from a second station, meaning they were actually looking at a response of six firefighters plus one Battalion Chief versus one crew of four firefighters in the consolidated plan.
 
In the past year, the Fire Department responded to approximately 6,000 potentially life threatening EMS calls, roughly half of which the got to before the ambulance.  Even though Fire is the first to respond to 3,000 priority emergency medical calls per year, this consolidation is being based on the locations of fires in the past decade - on average 68 fires per year. (AAFD goes to almost 50 times more emergency medical calls than fires.)
 
Station 5, the north and northeast side of Ann Arbor gets the short end of the stick. Station 5 will have half the number of firefighters and one third the trucks that Stations 1 & 2 will each have. Station 1&2 will have rescue trucks in service but Station 5 will not. (Station 5 will have a "reserve" rescue, which will not normally be available to respond unless one of the other rescues is out of service.)
 
One person pointed out he thought this was a great idea to shut down fire stations to save on heating and electricity to run the station but after he left, it was pointed out there would be no such savings as those buildings would be repurposed for other uses. Station 2 is currently being used for Community Standards and they will need to be relocated.
 
At the end, we were told that this is considered an internal matter and that any resolution City Council will pass will be for funding purposes in support.
 
My concerns:
 
A modern day urban Fire Department should not be strictly fire oriented and station coverage and should not be purely restructured based on such.
 
This restructuring is based on where fires in the past decade where, not where the majority of calls the fire department is responding to today.
 
There will be an uneven distribution of in service fire apparatus throughout town.
 
Station 1 & 2 would be able to respond to two simultaneous calls but Station 5 will not. Why can't personnel be redistributed more evenly so that Station 5 could respond to two calls-- one EMS (2) and one structure fire(4)? (minimum of 6 at each station)
 
AAFD and HVA ambulance may appear redundant to some, but they are not fully interchangeable in all calls both agencies respond to. Firefighters often initiate emergency medical care in hazardous situations like car crashes until safe access can be provided to ambulance company personnel or the patient can be moved safely into their care.
 
Lastly, why have these meetings at all if nothing that is being said will change what is going to happen?
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