Archive for Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Firefighters acclaimed; fire trucks bemoaned

Greg Murray, at work Monday at Station No. 5, passes one of the older fire engines, which was added to Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical department in 1987. The department has received a prestigious international accreditation from the Commission on Fire Accreditation International; however, the department's fleet is largely outdated.

Greg Murray, at work Monday at Station No. 5, passes one of the older fire engines, which was added to Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical department in 1987. The department has received a prestigious international accreditation from the Commission on Fire Accreditation International; however, the department's fleet is largely outdated.

March 18, 2008

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Fire & Medical Dept. receives international accreditation

The Lawrence-Douglas County Fire and Medical Department passes an intensive international review of its operations, and they pass with flying colors. Enlarge video

Fire department accreditation

The firefighters passed with flying colors. Their fire trucks did not.

Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical department became one of just three departments in the state and 123 in the world to receive a prestigious international accreditation from the Commission on Fire Accreditation International, the city announced Monday.

Fire Chief Mark Bradford said the accreditation took nearly 2 1/2 years to complete and delved into every corner of the department.

"I think what this should ensure the community is that a true top-to-bottom review of the department has been done to ensure we're operating efficiently and (show) what areas we can improve in," Bradford said.

The outside review also backed up a key point that Bradford has been promoting to city leaders: The department needs new fire trucks.

"The reviewers agreed that they're antiquated," Bradford said of an on-site inspection of Lawrence's firefighting equipment. "They said we've definitely gotten the life out of those apparatuses. They said they've seen individual vehicles in this condition, but not really an entire fleet in this condition."

Most of the city's large pieces of firefighting equipment - quints and ladder trucks - are about 20 years old, except for a new quint purchased in 2006 and a new engine purchased in 2001.

This year's city budget has approximately $2.3 million in it to purchase two new quint fire trucks - a fire engine with a short ladder on it - and a new technical rescue vehicle.

But the vehicles have not yet been purchased. Bradford said he was waiting for city commissioners to reconfirm the spending plans, given the tight city budget and slumping economy.

"Part of me says this is a no-brainer and they will want to move right ahead on it, but another part of me says that with the economy the way it is, they may want to slow down," Bradford said.

City Commissioner Mike Amyx - who has frequently urged staff to keep a close eye on expenses - said he's still leaning toward moving forward with the purchases.

"Those purchases are still a high priority in my mind because they involve core city services, life and safety issues," Amyx said. "I don't have any plans to move them back, but I do think the commission will end up looking at this whole budget process."

Bradford said the city's current fleet of firefighting equipment is frequently in the shop receiving maintenance work.

"I can tell you it is pretty much a full-time job to keep them on the road," Bradford said.

The review process also found that the city should begin planning to replace its burn tower, a training facility at 19th Street and Haskell Avenue. The approximately 30-year-old facility is lacking in current technology. Bradford said cost estimates haven't been developed, but he said a new facility could cost about $700,000.

Bradford said the review process highlighted the department's strengths as being its organization, its "good culture," its planning and its efforts in building new facilities to keep up with a growing community.

"We feel like the accreditation is something to be extremely proud of," Bradford said.

Sedgwick County and the city of Lenexa have the other two departments in the state that have received the accreditation.

Comments

Jeff Goodrick 7 years, 3 months ago

Sorry Marion I have to call you on that CAT you picked for a Firetruck. You don't want a 1100 hp engine in a small truck like that, most firetrucks have 300 to 425 hp engines. You couldn't drive it on Lawrence streets that thing would be 50,000 lbs. As for running med calls with Quints it's better to run a diesel that let it set. The Quint gets better fuel mileage than a SUV.

oldvet 7 years, 3 months ago

I flew in an airplane yesterday that, according to the plate fastened in the main forward door frame, said that it had been built in 1980. I'm sure that airplane is in use more than our firetrucks and yet it proves that with regular preventative maintenance and component upgrading, the service life can be much more than the 20 years that they have so far. Rebuild and overhaul, the basic firetruck functionality has not changed much in those 20 years.

Evan Ridenour 7 years, 3 months ago

"I flew in an airplane yesterday that, according to the plate fastened in the main forward door frame, said that it had been built in 1980. I'm sure that airplane is in use more than our firetrucks and yet it proves that with regular preventative maintenance and component upgrading, the service life can be much more than the 20 years that they have so far. Rebuild and overhaul, the basic firetruck functionality has not changed much in those 20 years."

Did you just compare an airplane to a fire truck?

Ragingbear 7 years, 3 months ago

This one time we had a dog that was only expected to live until he was 10, but lived until he was 21. So that means that a firetruck is able to last twice as long too.

Claire Williams 7 years, 3 months ago

Congratulations to the department on receiving this accreditation. That is really something the community should be proud of. And if the budget allows for it, the department should purchase what new equipment it can this year. Who knows if there will be any money allocated in the city budget in coming years for purchases of this kind.

And Oldvet, while some airplanes are designed to have major parts like engines easily removed, replaced and overhauled extensively over the years to extend their life, most vehicles are not. A firetruck is a vehicle after all, and 20 year old vehicles are not likely to be performing the best anymore, even with preventative maintenance. I think a lot of people would agree that if their life was depending on our community fire and medical teams, they would want them responding to the situation with the fastest, most reliable, and best equipment available.

OnlyTheOne 7 years, 3 months ago

The B-52 bomber has been in use by the Air Force for 50 years so it's possible to keep a highly stressed mechanical item in use far past it's expected lifetime. One problem is the difficulty in convincing civilians to maintain the equipment as it needs to be. Almost everybody puts off maintenance (myself included sometimes) that would extend the life of equipment and I have no doubt our city commissioners are no different.

toefungus 7 years, 3 months ago

Grabbing for more money. Government is always the same.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 3 months ago

Was that after your double-naught spy careet, marioni?

Evan Ridenour 7 years, 3 months ago

I love how some people will compare two completely different things to support their opinion.

1) Different machines have different life expectancies, some commercial airplanes are designed to last several decades with proper maintenance. This doesn't even hold true to all airplanes though much less FIRETRUCKS!

2) The cost of maintaining all machines including airplanes rises as the machine ages, the level of reliability declines as well. This makes operating the vehicles more and more expensive especially if you need them to be incredibly reliable. While you can justify these increasing maintenance costs on a commercial airliner due to the huge capital costs of procuring just one (and the longer lifespan), it is hard to financially justify it when maintaining a firetruck.

3) Combine point one and two to get point three. Firetrucks don't have the same life expectancy as an airplane or anything else that is completely different you would like to compare it to. And even if maintenance were the answer, which it isn't since the reliability of the machine is continually going to decline no matter how much maintenance you do, the cost of continuing to maintain a machine that has outlived its life expectancy is going to be prohibitively high (and in the case of a firetruck part of that cost might be lives and not just dollars).

greasyllama 7 years, 3 months ago

I remember when they bought the ladder truck brand new.They set it up to its full, entensive length in the parking lot at Perkin's on 23rd. Some poor fireman had to climb to the very top and wave to the kiddies every 20 minutes.Hot day too.

Jeremy Lichtenauer 7 years, 3 months ago

I'm most impressed by the drunk firefighters wearing bunker gear at Johnny's yesterday. Congratulations, you've embarrassed an entire profession.

BigPrune 7 years, 3 months ago

The City should've thought about the aging fleet when they were deciding to outlay those millions upon millions of dollars and cost overruns on the new fire station at 19th & Louisiana. But, that was the old commission - the ones that drove Lawrence into its worst financial crisis in history.

KaraGourley 7 years, 3 months ago

I find it hard to believe that ANY Lawrence firefighter would have been at Johnny's in bunker gear drinking.

KaraGourley 7 years, 3 months ago

i_g_w - The burn tower is suppose to be a controlled environment for the the firefighters to practice and be prepared for their jobs. I would think that having the tehcnology to control the situation would be beneficial to the department and safety of the crew.

Hats off to you firefighters! Like biggunz said that is an awesome achievement!

Janet Lowther 7 years, 3 months ago

Marion, there you are comparing 60+ year-old equipment with 20 year old equipment using very different technology - first off it's a gas burner instead of a diesel, even if the old Waukesha engines were designed to be rebuilt forever just like farm tractor or commercial truck engines.

As I understand it, fire engines have commercial truck engines which are designed to be rebuilt and put back on the road after something over 500,000 miles. That would be at least seven or eight thousand hours of operation.

Now, at 20 years old, I figure at least some of 'em are probably into the realm of "Rebuild me soon," 'cause I expect at least some (if not most) have been run over 500 hours a year.

I'd like to see a cost comparison between a comprehensive overhaul (complete engine, pump bearings & seals, hydraulic bearings & seals) vs trading in the old trucks.

Jeremy Lichtenauer 7 years, 3 months ago

I'm all for relaxing, celebrating, and having a good time. That's why I was at Johnny's! Just not in the uniform.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 3 months ago

snap writes:

Still

having

a

wonderful

"inevetibale"

internet

life

.

Kontum1972 7 years, 3 months ago

hey might as well spend that money the whole countries economic well being is going down the drain...spend, spend, spend...u people just dont get it a friggin nation of consumers and plastic money

Confrontation 7 years, 3 months ago

"Part of me says this is a no-brainer and they will want to move right ahead on it, but another part of me says that with the economy the way it is, they may want to slow down," Bradford said.

If it's truly a "no-brainer," then it has potential with this commish!

igby 7 years, 3 months ago

A few years ago the CC decided that these fire trucks could be used in responding to any 911 calls that required medical response. What a hole in the tax payers pocket. Running these big trucks around like EMS vans. I wondered if that decision at the time was smart. Wearing the trucks out for trivial calls. There's no doubt that this policy is tolling on their life expectancy.

The former CC made this decision based on the shortage of staff members and EMS workers that would fit into their budget. They had all these fireman sitting around waiting for a fire, already trained for EMS level assistance. Good decision but wrong to use these big trucks for short non-fire runs.

A much lighter truck for these EMS runs would be more economical.

Keep these old trucks for a few more years for fires and add some more lighter EMS response units for the fire department to make these non-fire runs with.

Keith Campbell 7 years, 3 months ago

hawkperch:

Greensburg wouldn't want the fire trucks from Lawrence. The fire trucks that were donated to Greensburg are newer than Lawrence's fire trucks.

packs_of_wild_dogzz 7 years, 3 months ago

You all should be proud of your fire department instead of focusing on the negative aspect of the article.

It's surprising how many professionals come out of the wood work to comment on these forums about things they likely know nothing about. Some of you would be billionaires if you were really that smart and could get off the LJWorld forums for 5 minutes! The world might be a better place.

Good Job Lawrence Fire Dpt.

wHo LeT thE dOgzz Out!!!

domino 7 years, 3 months ago

I can pretty much guarantee that if any firefighter was at any bar in his/her bunker geer getting drunk yesterday, he/she is either today or in the very near future, an unemployed firefighter. I just don't buy into that one, Jeremy!

velvetdagger 7 years, 3 months ago

CFAI was created as a barrier to low cost alternative fire service providers who were poised to make inroads into the sector. It measures how closely a fire department adheres to the ideal operation as viewed by fire service insiders. In this way it prevents maverick competitors from finding new efficiencies and under-bidding traditional fire departments. Not surprisingly, then, it values frequently-replaced fire trucks over, say, aggressive smoke-detector programs.

packs_of_wild_dogzz 7 years, 3 months ago

Hey Multi- Why not call Chief Bradford and ask what happens when his guys are in a bar, in uniform getting drunk. And comparing Rescue Me to the real world...come on, this ain't TV and Lawrence ain't NY City. LMFAO!!!!

wHo LeT thE dOgzz Out!!!

lifelonglawrence 7 years, 3 months ago

Congratulations to LDCFM for a wonderful accomplishment. I hear they have a recruit class graduating on Friday. 11 of the newest members of the FD, and one of them is only 19 yrs old!!!! Does the city and do we really trust a 19 year old with potentially our lives?

PrincessConsuelaBananaHammock 7 years, 3 months ago

I guess to me it's most important that in the event I should need them, the trucks can get the firemen there, do the job and do it well.

Claire Williams 7 years, 3 months ago

Anonymous user

lifelonglawrence (Anonymous) says:

"Congratulations to LDCFM for a wonderful accomplishment. I hear they have a recruit class graduating on Friday. 11 of the newest members of the FD, and one of them is only 19 yrs old!!!! Does the city and do we really trust a 19 year old with potentially our lives?"

Lifelonglawrence, if that 19 year old is becoming a full time employee of LFD, he/she has already had to jump through many hoops to get there. They have taken and passed Firefighter 1 & 2 courses at an accredited fire science school, become certified as an EMT through coursework and on the job training (at least a 6 month process), AND spent a year as an "extra board" firefighter with LFD (where they are on-call duty for up to a year before being considered for full time assignment). I say kudos to one so young for proving through perseverance that they deserve to be one of the rescuers we depend on.

Oh and last time I checked, we had EOE laws to help ensure qualified people get the jobs they deserve, regardless of their age.

packs_of_wild_dogzz 7 years, 3 months ago

Multidisciplinary (Anonymous) says:

"packs.. Just how many Lawrence firefighters, EMT, police and sheriff's department personnel have you personally dined,partied, danced, drank and whatever with, hmmm ?

I also said myself, this isn't NY. Study up some more next time."

Probably more than you. How would you know...do you know one of the Dogzz?? You're one of the geniuses on the forums right?

wHo LeT thE dOgzz Out!!!

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