by Nathan Calabrese
Q: How long have you been with the department?
A: 19 years
Q: How long have you been in the fire service?
A: 24 years
Q: Are you aware of the FEMSA and FAMA organizations, and what they do?
A: No, not until you contacted me and explained to me what they are.
Q: Is your staff paid/volunteer/mix?
Q: How many stations do you operate?
A: 23 stations, with our 24th station opening in April of 2019.
Q: How many personnel do you have?
A: 623 including admin and civilians.
Q: How many apparatuses do you operate?
A: Total fleet 110.
Q: What size is the population that you serve, and the square mileage of your jurisdiction?
A: 321,959 across 280 square miles.
Q: How many calls per year does your department run?
A: We had 60,000 calls in 2017.
Q: What is your call ratio in terms of fire, accidents, EMS, natural disasters, or other?
A: EMS makes up 80% of our calls, everything else is the remaining 20%.
Q: Would you be willing to tell us the size of your annual budget?
A: $76.9 million
Q: Are you satisfied with the department budget in terms of budget size vs. department demands?
Q: What are your top 3-5 equipment purchase expenses?
A: Apparatus, EMS supplies, at the moment we’re spending a lot on thermal imaging cameras.
Q: Are there challenges you face in the procurement and purchasing process while utilizing your budget?
A: I would say not really. It tends to be pretty easy to work with our budget, and the system is very user friendly for us.
Q: Does your department actively seek out and apply for government grants either local, state, or federal?
A: Yes, we do.
Q: Does your department actively seek out and apply for private grants from businesses and non-profit organizations?
A: Yes, we do.
Product and Purchasing Questions
Q: How far in advance do you plan your purchases for vehicles and equipment?
A: We try to operate on a 10-year replacement plan.
Q: In terms of products, would you describe your department as brand loyal, function loyal, or price loyal?
A: We tend to be very open when we are looking for products. We like to look at all the options available, and we really put a lot of focus into value, quality, and the reputation of the manufacturer.
Q: Do you have a standard time in which you review equipment, is it done as the equipment nears its’ useful life, or is it driven by input from your personnel?
A: Apparatus end of life is ideal for replacing most of the equipment. All our apparatus is purchased bare, and once the apparatus is delivered, we purchase the equipment for it and load it up before it’s put into service.
Q: When you seek to replace vehicles or equipment, do you tend to evaluate many manufacturers and products, or do you tend to stick with what you have purchased in the past?
A: We like to look at all of our options when going for a replacement.
Q: How much do you rely on resellers (dealers, distributors) to assist you in trying out products and purchasing products?
A: We utilize and talk to resellers in the field quite a bit.
Q: Do you maintain a relationship with few local or specific resellers, or do you tend to shop around from a larger and broader base of resellers?
A: I’d say we like to really shop around.
Q: What is your opinion of the work manufacturers are doing in terms of presenting and offering new technology into the industry?
A: I think they are doing a pretty good job. We recently had a meeting with a manufacturer and they were asking us what we think we need, what we see coming, what kind of challenges they face, and it seemed like they were really trying to produce what we need to succeed.
Q: Are there challenges your department faces on the job which require products and/or technology that is not being addressed by the manufacturers in the industry?
A: I think you can improve on anything, but I don’t think there are specific challenges we face where a solution doesn’t exist. I think there is technology that keeps coming which will improve the way we perform our duties.
Q: What are the top three challenges you yourself face in managing the organization?
A: Probably the thing we address the most often is the mindset or culture of the younger generation. The political aspects of the position as well as dealing with the union are also continuous challenges.
Q: What are the top three challenges your department faces in responding to calls?
A: Probably the number and location of our stations, personnel, and the infrastructure of the streets in the community.
Open Ended Questions
Q: If you could directly communicate anything you wanted to the manufacturers, resellers, and service providers of the industry, what would it be?
A: Addressing some of the manufacturers, I would talk about the quality and pricing of the products offered. I feel some products offered are not necessarily of the best quality, and the cost of them is astronomical to us as a department.
Q: How did you feel about this interview?
AA Very good, thank you.
Q: Would you be open to participating on a Fire Chief’s panel at the annual FEMSA conference?
Q: Would you be ok if this interview were made public in printed form and you were quoted?
Q: Anything you would like to add?