Archive for Thursday, February 7, 2008

2007 year of transition for fire dept.

February 7, 2008

The Eudora Fire Department was a department in transition last year, according to its end of the year report for 2007. Fire Chief Randy Ates said one of the biggest changes came in the form of equipment upgrades.

"We made a lot of improvements in equipment," he said. "We replaced the old fire truck with a newer model and replaced some of our aging equipment with newer updates."

Ates, who is the only full-time staff member, said the equipment upgrades were a big positive for the rest of the department, which is made up of 22 volunteers.

"When they can come in and know that they have a truck that's trustworthy - they know it has all the equipment they need and plus it's big enough to handle the job - that's a confidence builder," he said.

Another big change was the department taking over the Eudora Community Emergency Medical Services, which consists of 23 volunteers. Ates said the department still is struggling with getting the Eudora Community EMS up and running, as well as getting recruits and training them.

They also are working through which policies and procedures work and are worth keeping as opposed to those that will not stay with the department.

"We're nine months into it now and it's still an evolving process," he said. "It's a new organization under a new heading. It's got more people than it has before, the rules have changed and some of the operations have changed. It's just growing pains."

On the horizon, Ates looks forward to increased numbers for both the fire department and EMS

"On the EMS side, I'm enthusiastic about the number of people we've got on board now - we have over 20 - and with the EMT class progress we'll have more, better-trained people out on the streets in the next two months," Ates said. "On the fire side, I'm hoping that this year will bring about some increases from recruitment because we'll be having a fire school this spring."

A recruiting committee will get together and meet with Ates to make recommendations regarding how much will be spent on ads and recruiting for the fire department.

The department still has some problems with space and personnel, as they do not have a fire station in as much as they have a garage with an office in it.

The fire department received 135 total calls this year, up from 107 calls in 2006 and 80 calls in 2005. The most common call type was that of a grass or equipment fire with 28 calls.

The average response time of the first engine was 6 minutes, 4 seconds. The busiest day of the week was Saturday and the busiest time of day was 8 p.m.

"Because we're a bedroom community, Monday through Friday, 8 to 5, we're dead and we don't get any calls," Ates said. "Our calls start picking up in the evening. So, naturally most of our calls occur in the evening when kids are out of school, mom and dad are home from work, or weekends when people are home."

ECEMS statistics were compiled beginning July 22, when the agency was incorporated into the fire department. ECEMS received 173 calls and the most common call type was general medical with 31 calls.

The average response time was 5 minutes, 40 seconds. The busiest day of the week was Tuesday and the busiest time was between 8 and 9 p.m.

Ates said call times are better than what they should be for EMS because one of the vehicles gets sent home with the shift supervisor so they can go directly to the call and then the rest of the team goes to the fire house to pick up the other EMS truck.

Ates hopes the lull in growth will allow both departments to catch up with what had been a surging population.

"Last year, there was a lot of growth," he said. "This year, since growth in the city has slowed down, we're going to take a breather, try to bring get more people in to the department, beef up some of our training and just make sure that we've got all of our basics down pat.

"If we start building up again next year and we don't have our basics down and our people and equipment aren't up to par, we'll have a shaky foundation."

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