Brainerd Fire Department: Annual report - Called to serve, every day
On average, not a day went by in 2016 without the Brainerd Fire Department receiving a call for service. The department recently released its 2016 annual report, which includes a summary of the calls the department received, as well as other nota...
On average, not a day went by in 2016 without the Brainerd Fire Department receiving a call for service.
The department recently released its 2016 annual report, which includes a summary of the calls the department received, as well as other notable department accomplishments.
The department received 459 calls for service in 2016, which averages out to one call every 19 hours. The department serves the cities of Brainerd and Baxter, as well as Crow Wing Township, Long Lake Township, Maple Grove Township, Nokay Lake Township, Oak Lawn Township, St. Mathias Township and Unorganized Territory.
The past year was Fire Chief Tim Holmes' first full calendar year as head of the department. He took over as fire chief on July 13, 2015. In 2016, the department responded to 83 fires, 28 of which were building fires. Another 20 were grass fires and 12 were passenger vehicle fires. Those 83 fires resulted in a total estimated dollar loss of $2.5 million, including property and contents.
Of all the 459 calls for service in 2016, the ones that stand out are the fire calls, Holmes said, because of the direct impact on the victims.
"I think everyone did a great job in 2016," Holmes said. "All of our firefighters have done a great job and have committed a lot of their time to the fire department and the community."
The 459 calls for service are broken down into the following categories: fire, rescue and emergency medical service, hazardous condition, service call, good intent call, false alarm, mutual aid given, severe weather, special incident.
A hazardous condition call involves combustible or flammable spills and leaks, chemical releases, electrical wiring or equipment problems, biological hazards, attempted burning or an explosive or bomb removal.
A service call involves a person in distress, water problems, smoke or odor problems, animal problems, public service assistance or unauthorized burning.
A good intent call involves firefighters being dispatched and canceled en route, controlled burning, steam or other gas being mistaken for smoke, an EMS call when the person has been transported or a wrong location is given.
A mutual aid given call is when an outside fire department asks the Brainerd Fire Department for assistance at an incident.
The annual report notes the department collectively completed 3,500 hours of training in 2016. These training hours covered a variety of tasks, including trench rescue, advanced arson, crude by rail and emergency response and confined space rescue. It's critical for firefighters to attend regular training, Holmes said, in order to keep their firefighting and emergency medical service skills sharp.
At a minimum, a firefighter in the department is required to have 24 hours of firefighting training per year, Holmes said. There's also a minimum of 24 hours of hazardous material operations training per year, as well as requirements for Occupational Safety and Health Administration Training and EMS training.
"These are only the minimum requirements and we certainly don't want to operate at minimums," Holmes said.
During the year, the department received an automated external defibrillator from Essentia Health, which is kept at the fire station in northeast Brainerd. The defibrillator has already been used a couple of times by fire station staff when people have stopped there with medical problems, Holmes said.
"Being close to all the parks, it is a good location and park staff has access to the building," Holmes said. "Early access to an AED is one of the things that can have a big impact on surviving a cardiac arrest."
During the past year, the department's newest fire engine, Engine 3, was put into service. The engine cost $530,000. The department also hired David Cox in 2016 for the position of fire marshal/deputy chief. Erik Flowers, Nick Haglin and Steve Isle also all joined the department in 2016 as paid on-call firefighters. There are currently 32 paid on-call firefighters in the department.
In 2016, the Insurance Services Office completed its survey of the department's ISO rating, which remained at four. The ratings-a private rating service insurance companies use to determine fire department coverage of properties-are on a scale from one to 10, with one being the best.
The city of Brainerd in 2016 honored Lance Davis, Kurt Doree, Rick Johnson, Dennis Logelin, Kevin Tengwall and Mark Turner with Tower Awards. Davis, Doree, Tengwall and Turner are former full-time equipment operators who were laid off when the Brainerd City Council restructured the fire department from a mix of full-time and paid on-call firefighters to a fully paid on-call department in 2015.
Since the restructuring, Firefighters Union Local 4725 and Turner filed a lawsuit against the city of Brainerd regarding the decision. The trial on the lawsuit is scheduled to begin on Sept. 26 in Crow Wing County District Court. Despite the lawsuit, honoring the former full-time firefighters for their years of service was the right thing to do, Holmes said.
"The former full-time firefighters that were given the awards did give their time to serve the city and they need to be honored for that time and dedication," Holmes said. "It was certainly the right thing to do and they deserved the honor and recognition."
The department will continue to evaluate its capital needs in order to determine what kinds of equipment to purchase, Holmes said. The department has two fire trucks with ladders, one of which is the oldest truck in the department, from 1984. A new ladder truck could cost $1.2 million and the department is planning to replace the 1984 ladder truck in 2018.
The department is determining if it needs two ladder trucks in the future, Holmes said, or if one ladder truck will suffice. A large part of this discussion is how much multilevel construction happens in the department's service area in the near future, he said, or if the department will add fire stations in the future.
Holmes hopes to add more paid on-call firefighters in 2017, he said, but the exact number depends on whether any firefighters retire in the near future. Overall, the department plans to improve emergency response by monitoring its responses and ensuring each response is appropriate, he said.
"We continue to monitor our response to make sure we have good response times, make sure we have the appropriate equipment, make sure we have the appropriate number of personnel and continue to work with our public safety partners," Holmes said. "We also need to consider looking at the future needs for an additional station and apparatus needs as the area continues to grow."