Andrew Pollack's Blog

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Catching you up - #2 What's going on with the Fire Stuff?

By Andrew Pollack on 07/13/2009 at 12:02 PM EDT

I know some of you read this blog only for the Domino tidbits, but some of you have also told me you like the things I post about the fire department. Others want to hear about the kids and the house (hi Mom!). I'd say something like "I try to mix it up" but that's not true. I write whatever random stuff comes to mind. This time it's a fire department update.

To begin with, over the last few months we've "renumbered" the apparatus a bit. The move to county dispatch spurred our Chief into trying a numbering system that could eventually extend to the other departments we work with. All Cumberland radio call signs are now prefixed with "one-oh" (1-0). That essentially identifies it as Cumberland. In theory, other tows will be "two-oh" or "three-oh" etc. So, Engine 1 is now called Engine 1-0-1. As the Lieutenant on that engine, I'm "Lieutenant 1-0-1" on the radio.

Earlier this year, we "Retired" our Engine 1-0-3 from service. The budget was primarily to blame. As the actual apparatus was still fairly new, it was actually re-lettered and is in service on the west side of town as Engine 1-0-5, replacing the oldest in our fleet. With Engine 1-0-3 gone, it leaves Engine 1-0-1 with a larger service area and of course Ladder 1-0-7 (which is actually a quint, so can act as an Engine in a pinch) also has to help pick up the slack a bit.

The biggest news is that for the first time in a long time, EMS (Medical) services are once again under the same roof as Fire and Rescue. There is no longer a separate department for those services. As with any change, there were some hurdles but things are progressing well. What used to be called "Rescue 1" is now "Ambulance 1-0-4" and what used to be "Rescue 3" is now "Ambulance 1-0-8". That let our Heavy Rescue finally be called what it is on the radio, and is now called "Heavy Rescue 1-0-3". As part of the transition, an EMS class was held over the spring and into early summer, and around 20 newly minted EMS "Basic" level responders were created.

The addition of a grant position, as well as the in-house EMS department and our participation in the the local community college base Fire Science program means we now have round the clock staffing of at least two fully qualified Firefighter-EMS positions, at least one of which is a Paramedic in addition to up to four students participating in the "live-in" programs who are firefighter EMT's. That really helps us always have at least a base level crew to respond quickly while the rest of us get to the station and join the response. Cumberland is better off this way, even if it means that sometimes we call-responders aren't the first on scene.

More changes will come quickly as always, and we'll just have to keep doing the best we can to keep up.

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