Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.
Today's Journal article, Larger fire stations considered, brings us nearly full circle in the continuing EMS/fire station relocation saga. (My emphasis throughout.)
"The city should build extra space into its new fire stations in case future demands require additional staff and vehicles, fire and city officials say."
I would have substituted the word WHEN instead of in case in that opening sentence. Last year, when moving the fire stations was discussed, the handwriting already was on the wall that three stations would not be adequate for long.
When I met with Fire Chief Dahms early in 2007 to discuss the whole relocation idea, he indicated the reason he supported the move to Calhoun Road at all was so Brookfield could make-do with their smaller 3 station fleet. Increasing travel time efficiency* across town would stretch resources. Station #3, for example (Mooreland Rd.), already responds to calls from across town in station #2 is on a call. (*Sorry, I realized this word was not included in the original post.)
I think Chief Dahms shared my opinion that we really needed a 4th station, but because of spending caps, he did not believe the payroll increase would be approved. (He also agreed that it was a mistake to have built the centralized station #1--Safety Building. We should have had 4 stations in the 4 corners of Brookfield instead.)
Dahms indicated that when more service was needed, the 3 in a row station configuration would make placement for adding that 4th station difficult. There was no dispute that the east side of Brookfield, be it north side or south side would receive inferior response times from the relocated stations. Back to the article:
"The floor plans call for adding a third apparatus bay and more living space so the stations could add a second ambulance and three paramedics to staff it."
Chief Dahms and I discussed adding an additional EMS only station on the north side, be it at the Lilly location or a new location possibly at Mitchel Park or the Recycling Center. He explained that 3 paramedics, however, were not really adequate to respond to all emergencies--that was why the fire truck and ambulance always go out together. Dahms told me about some experimental hybrid quasi fire engine/ambulance vehicles that have been used in other areas. This would save some money in that they are not as expensive as full fire trucks, and that for most EMS calls they are all that are needed. I think they were staffed with 4 persons.
"City and fire leaders said this week there are no plans to increase Fire Department staffing beyond the existing five-person crews. Staffing would increase only if an increased volume of calls for emergency medical services required it."
Since the study was based on night-time calls, which are less volume than day-time calls, it is not hard to see that call volume will be increasing. I see the need to add more staff in the not so distant future. Trouble is, with the Calhoun alignment, we now have made equitable response times to the east side of Brookfield a thing of the past. That is, unless the aldermen would reverse their decision to make the move. (Hey, Jim Sensenbrenner is trying to reverse the ethanol momentum!)
Remember, the most compelling reason for relocating the fire stations was:
A desire to control personnel costs was a major reason that aldermen voted in April 2007 to not build a fourth fire station to solve excessive 911 response times on the city's west side, where there are no fire stations.
So why would the city build bigger stations to possibly increase personnel to levels about the same as staffing a fourth station? ...
I say, that is a very good question! We will need a 4th station, or at the very least an additional EMS ambulance and crew. The south side station is probably too far along to do anything about that mistake, but on the north side? Can we rethink this?
Past related posts:
A CREATIVE EMS solution the Task Force did not consider (Why don't we add another EMS only station?)
Update: "Creepy" picture Billy Ray cannot deny