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Curmudgeon's Corner

cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner

Village Buzz - January 12th - G'town Fire Department Follow-Up...

Fire Department, Germantown, Political, Quality of Life, Village Board

The following is from Dean WoIter, Chair of the Public Safety committee of Germantown.  The meeting to which this refers was originally scheduled to occur last Thursday, but was re-scheduled and was held last Friday.  The discussion centers on the Christmas day fire, shortcomings, and action items that will be pursued with the intent of correcting the problems.  Dean has indicated that he is not opposed to discussion about adding to the full-time fire fighter force if that is indicated to resolve the response issues.
 
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"I had promised that I would get back to you concerning the meeting held with members of the Public Safety committee, Village [H]all Staff and the Germantown Fire Department on Friday, January 9th at 2:00pm
 
Three members of the Public Safety committee, Dean Wolter, Al Vanderheiden, and Mel Ewert, Village Administrator David Schornack, Village President, Tom Kempinski, Deputy Chief Mike Maury, and Deputy Chief John Delain were present.
 
The meeting began with discussions about the December 25th fire call, the response times, the staffing of the equipment, and the amount of POC's that responded to the dispatch call on that day. Deputy Chief John Delain went through the account again as was stated on your blog on Thursday, January 8th.
 
Questions were asked about the number of vehicles and the staffing of each, and the time it took to get the first and last truck on the road and toward the vicinity of the fire. No one present disagreed that the response time should have been better, but further discussions went to the area of how that could be improved for future structure fire calls that may happen at night or on a Holiday.
 
The Germantown Fire Department currently has 29 paid on call fire fighters and 5 part time and full time fire fighters. Although there is a schedule for when POC's are on call, personal responsibilities like employment, family life and the like can cause a POC not to be able to respond to all dispatches when called. It is the POC's responsibility to find a replacement when they know they will not able to fulfill their On Duty responsibilities, but there are times when that cannot always be foreseen or planned for.
 
There is an accounting made of when a POC shows up for a call and when they do not. Since all POCs are volunteers, it is at times difficult to reprimand or discipline a POC when they miss a call or a string of calls due to other personal responsibilities. We do not want to diminish our ranks through the process of over discipline or punishment. A debate commenced about the responsibilities and expectations of the POC when they join the volunteer fire department. Rather than dwell on enforcing or strengthening the procedures for discipline of a missed call, discussions were had on how to build incentives for POC's to make a majority of the dispatch calls they are scheduled to cover. With a good incentive program in place, POC's may make it a priority to attend more training sessions and drill sessions, things that are needed to sharpen and hone their skills as a fire fighter in Germantown.
 
The meeting lasted about an hour and a half.  Action items that came out of the meeting are as follows:
 
1) Deputy Chief Mike Maury and Deputy Chief John Delain are in charge, and acting Chief(s) of the Germantown Fire Department. They shall share the responsibilities of Chief until the time of Chief Pollpeter's return. These responsibilities include the day to day running of the GFD, the power to write changes in procedures, and the continued scheduling of all training, drills and officers meetings. They are responsible and accountable for all actions and activities of the Germantown Fire Department. All changes in procedure are to come before the Public Safety committee for review and comment.
 
(With Chief Pollpeter out for an indefinite period, leadership roles need to be established and maintained at the fire department)
 
2) Review of Discipline procedures and record keeping of attendance on drills, training and dispatch calls for all POC's and full time and part time fire fighters.
 
(POCs attendance on responding to calls needs to be recorded and tracked. POCs that are only making a small percentage of calls need to be addressed and a procedure put in place to increase percentage of responded calls or address issues causing POC to not respond to calls when scheduled. Attendance in training sessions and drills should be tracked and recorded. This includes all employees of the GFD, full time, part time and POC fire fighters.)
 
3) Create and implement a incentive program for POC's. Program will revolve around responding to dispatch calls and the covering of scheduled shifts.
 
(An incentive program could be developed to increase percentage of responded calls for POC's. With better attendance on calls, drills and training attendance should increase as well. Attendance to calls will be tracked and possibly posted in all fire stations. Monthly reports of POC call attendance will be made available to the Public Safety committee for their review and recommendation. Attendance at Fire drills and training sessions of all GFD staff will also be made available.)
 
4) Review and draft a possible procedure for night time and holiday dispatch calls to be taken from Station #1.
 
( With the current issue of having enough staff for a piece of equipment to safely roll out on a call,, a way to solve this issue maybe to take all calls received at night and on Holidays from only one Fire Station. Equipment would need to be moved to accommodate this procedure. Deputy Chief Delain and Deputy Chief Maury will investigate this possibility and make a report of it's advantages, dis-advantages and possible feasibility.)
 
Al, I am not moving completely away from my prior position of investigating adding more full time/ part time staff to the Germantown Fire Department. Many other issues within the GFD need to be looked into and solved, before we add staff or increased costs to the GFD. Safety of our residents is priority one, and the current safety committee takes that responsibility very seriously.
 
I was very happy with the progress and the outcome of the meeting. Through communication and discussion a good solid plan has been devised, one that I believe will benefit all within the GFD and ultimately benefit the residents of Germantown."
 
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I had further correspondence with Dean and was assured that all these matters would be part and parcel of regularly scheduled meetings of the Public Safety committee and, therefore, available to all citizens either in person or over the cable system.  
 
My original post concerning this subject was written using the information from a Germantown citizen who was doing his best to report what he had learned from a firefighter friend.  There was, in retrospect, some erroneous content in the original post but I believe that was an honest 'heat of the moment' mistake by the firefighter.  The thrust of the original post proved to be accurate in that there was an issue in the response to this call that needed to be aired in public and resolved in public.

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