Friday, March 1, 2013
The Anchorage Fire Department (AFD) currently has a fleet of approximately 175 vehicles consisting of ladder trucks, fire engines, water tenders, ambulances, and assorted other command and support vehicles. Emergency response run volume has increased as the population continues to grow. The vehicles are racking up far more mileage in a shorter period as a result, and breakdowns are more frequent. We have not changed the replacement schedule, so by the time vehicles get to reserve status, most are over 100,000 miles and losing the most important factor – reliability.
Meanwhile, the same 8 bay shop facility welcomes all 175 vehicles in daily, along with portable pumps, chainsaws, trailers, and miscellaneous other equipment. The number of technician’s remains at 6, and with our shop assistant and lead mechanic that means 8 people working on purchasing, inspecting, maintaining, troubleshooting, repairing, modifying, and retiring all AFD vehicles. (more…)
Sunday, February 24, 2013
As part of his new ordinance aimed at reducing worker’s rights, Mayor Dan Sullivan is demanding that employees share more of their health benefit expenses. Curiously, recent actions by his Administration are suggesting just the opposite.
Members of the Anchorage Fire Department who belong to the PERS Tier IV retirement group do not have a traditional pension. A percentage of their salaries are directed into a 401k style account, with an individual health savings retirement account. Since fire fighters do not have the benefit of social security, that one pot of money must last them their entire lives. (more…)
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Currently the Anchorage Fire Fighters are working with the Anchorage Assembly to recognize the major concerns within the language of the Mayors proposal. Through the Assembly’s diligent work, and frustration over the rush to pass this, they have found upsetting concerns and have offered amendments to fix them. The most recent was an oversight that essentially eliminated our emergency care service. Again this was recognized and fixed. Having something as detrimental to city services such as emergent care being taken away from our community shows again why managing your public safety should be put in the hands of Fire Department Administration, not politicians. Don’t let politicians decide your safety, we need to send this proposal back to the Mayor.
Below is a recent study showing the importance of having at least 3 fire fighters on every fire apparatus. Anchorage could see a decrease in public safety should this proposal go through, thus resulting in loss of life, property, and fire fighter safety:
NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY REPORT:
WASHINGTON D.C.–A landmark study issued today by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) shows that the size of firefighting crews has a substantial effect on the fire service’s ability to protect lives and property in residential fires.
You can read the article in its entirety here.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Across the country, this pattern has been repeated; Towns use Fire Inspection, Plan Review and Investigation as Trojan horses to save money. When privatization fails or becomes even more expensive than the service previously provided by the Departments, it is eliminated completely. In Anchorage, Fire Inspectors conducted over 5,000 inspections last year, including new construction, restaurants, theaters and bars, banquet halls, day cares, business inspections, residential inspections, Community Right to Know and much more. The law already allows private contractors to check sprinkler, alarm and hood systems. Fire Prevention staff monitor those inspections and verify that the required corrections are made. This is but one of the critical regulatory responsibilities that Fire Prevention staff have. A dedicated, trained and independent Fire Prevention inspection and plan review staff is critical for the safety of the over 60,000 public buildings in the Anchorage area. Fire Inspectors are beholden to no one and have no financial interest in the inspection process and this is a sacrosanct responsibility. Allowing the private sector to conduct fire inspections and plan reviews pushes us closer and closer to disasters like the recent night club fire in Brazil, where 237 people died horribly. Those kinds of tragedies just don’t happen here. Anchorage Fire Department Fire Inspectors regularly check these types of nightclubs and require corrections for blocked exits, improperly functioning sprinkler and alarm systems and much more. We conduct regular night time bar checks to verify that the clubs are operating safely. The private sector is driven by profit motives; public safety dollars should not be spent on company profits especially in an area where private inspectors and plan reviewers could be subject to profit motives that endanger the public. (more…)