City Reviewing Fire Dept. Organization – Looking to Improve Service and Performance

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The City Administration want to assures everyone that it does take all areas of Public Safety Seriously and are in fact working to try to improve the Service and Performance of the Lowell Fire Dept, by conducting a complete review of the entire operation.

They also want everyone to be aware that the engine companies are the ones that carry the Narcan and are equipped to handle medical emergencies, so in the case of West 6th St. and other, they try not to close the engine companies and will continue to make sure these situations are responded to.

They take the recent overdoses seriously and have worked with the entire community and with the State delegation and state agencies to address these issue with the full support and endorsement of the entire City Council.

The City of Lowell has issued an RFQ to have an independent 3rd Party come in and review the entire Lowell Fire Dept and make recommendations, this should be awarded shortly.

With the Lowell Firefighters current Contract expiring this past June 30th, the timing of this review is interesting.

Here is a portion of what the RFQ (Available on the City Website) calls for:

The City of Lowell seeks a consultant to conduct a performance and management study of the Lowell Fire Department (LFD). This includes analyzing the Department organization, budget, policies, staffing, equipment, capacity and related variables that support or constrain Department needs into the future.

The Lowell Fire Department is a full service department, twenty-four (24) hours per day, seven (7) days per week. There are eight (8) active fire stations. The department budget is approximately $17,587,140 million dollars. There are two hundred eight (208) employees. The City is responsible for its own dispatching services. Please note that the LFD responds to all medical emergencies but does not transport. The City contracts separately with Trinity Ambulance Service (“Trinity Ambulance”) to provide such services.

An organizational chart for the department is appended to this Request for Quotes (“RFQ”).

Fire Department Org Chart

The LFD 2016 budget is $ 17,587,140 million and currently has 208 full time positions including: 1 Fire Chief, 9 Deputy Fire Chiefs, 14 Fire Captains, 43 Fire Lieutenants, 134 Firefighters,1 business manager, 1 mechanic and 1 administrative assistant, 1ME repairman, 1 IT assistant and 1 head clerk.

The evaluation and study should include, but not be limited to the various Department general orders and policies (both written and verbal), the collective bargaining agreement, the Department culture, staffing, deployment, apparatus, communications, training and facilities, and take into account city budget constraints and the general availability of state and federal grant funding.

The study will address the following components as tasks and deliverables

Management
• Review and evaluate the current management systems, priorities, practices and approaches to overseeing and controlling the operations of the Department including the use of proactive management tools such as incident command, pre fire planning, and post incident analysis and present structure and effectiveness of the chain of command.
• Evaluate service delivery including response times.
• Evaluate personnel management issues including recruitment, selection, promotion, training, health and safety programs and performance evaluations.
• Assess training programs and identify any gaps regarding current and future capabilities based on identified associated risks in Lowell and surrounding mutual aid response areas.
• Recommend best practices for management systems to limit liability and efficiently manage the Department to meet current and future trends and needs.
• Identify a modem vision, mission, values; strategic priorities, goals and strategies for a Department well suited for the needs of Lowell presently and into the future.
• Identify and report on any impediments for the effective use of personnel and service delivery as it relates to the collective bargaining agreement and/or municipal funding levels and the impact of future progressive developments as identified:from the results of this comprehensive study.

Staffing
• Provide a staffing plan of staffing plan scenarios over the next 3-5 years, taking into account the total number of Fire Department members budgeted through the municipal budget, the SAFER grant and other sources, and identify the fiscal impact, in the context of the municipal, state and federal funding scenario(s). This should include a review of best practices applicable to the Department set-up for staffing allocation, deployment and scheduling.
• Perform a detailed analysis of all overtime expenditures and causation. Recommend a formula to identify the total number of personnel, per staffing scenarios, required considering time off for training, vacation, sick leave and on the job injuries. Propose, if any exist, ways to reduce overtime costs while still maintaining adequate service levels would be welcome.
• Assess the current organizational structure and current management structure to determine if the City is making maximum effective and efficient use of its current resources.
• Review staffing on all apparatus response units.
• Evaluate how staff resources in all areas of the Department are deployed and utilized.

Other services
• Review current and future demand for fire services including EMS, including
the potential of providing responses in vehicles other than current fire apparatus.
• Review workload and utilization of support staff.
• Compare current programs and services to regional and national trends and standards of service.
• Consider and comment upon fire station location and resource deployment
based on service delivery capabilities, recognizing that the City has no current
intentions to relocate any fire stations.
• Evaluate fire prevention, fire investigation, hazardous materials response
capability, deputy aides and other types of support services within the context of the
current operations.
• Assess fleet condition, maintenance, acquisition and replacement program.
• Conduct interviews with senior City staff including the City Manager, Human Resources, Finance and other Departments as needed.
• Interview staff in the Fire Department including Deputy Fire Chiefs, Captains, Lieutenants and firefighters in small on duty work crews.
• Interview property owners, business officials, state public safety officials, residents and other stakeholders to gain input on the quality of fire and emergency services and expectations of Lowell fire services in the future.

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