Reports Shed Favorable Light

Studies show AFD fire services more than meeting expectations

“Both private, for profit, ambulance companies ... have stated they do not want to take over this service in Alameda.”

— SPC/Tri Data Report

Findings from three independent studies gave the Alameda Fire Department (AFD) favorable reviews for its fire-suppression and emergency-response services.

AFD has been the subject of four separate studies over the last five years analyzing emergency response capabilities, fire station location and personnel deployment.

The results of the four reviews were detailed in a memo from AFD Fire Chief Mike D'Orazi to City Manager John Russo last month.

The purpose of the four surveys was to evaluate the current model of operations used by AFD. The four studies were conducted by Citygate Associates, a general manager consulting firm that reviewed AFD's public safety, fire protection and emergency medical services; SPC/TriData, an EMS and fire service consulting firm that analyzed and gave recommendations to AFD regarding its EMS delivery service; the Insurance Services Office (ISO) study detailed the city's fire suppression services; and the International City Managers Association (ICMA) Consulting Services, which looked at staffing levels.

The Citygate study, performed in 2007, states AFD's "first unit on scene performance as measured by the National Fire Protection Standard was very good citywide," and "the department has been well served by its staffing capabilities."

The study also warned "closing a fire station would significantly increase first response times."

The SPC/TriData study was commissioned in June 2010. "Response times are acceptable and patient care is superior," stated one of the findings in the report. Another finding states numerous EMS companies want the city to keep its service. "Both private, for profit, ambulance companies which contracted with Alameda County for emergency transport services have stated they do not want to take over this service in Alameda."

The ISO survey, completed in February 2012, gave AFD a score of 82.83 out of 100 on a criteria based on equipment, training, staffing and geographic distribution of fire companies. That led ISO to give AFD to its most favorable review stating, "Alameda's score places it in the top 6.6 percent of the 958 fire departments rated in California."

The ISO study said they did not give AFD a score of 90 or better because of its lack of training facilities.

Of the four reports, only the ICMA report came back unfavorable to AFD. The ICMA report, commissioned in 2008. D'Orazi was very critical of the ICMA report in his memo to City Manager John Russo, writing it lacks "empirical data, professionally sound analysis and applicable recommendations."

The report, which was detailed in the Alameda Sun article "AFD Staffing as Compared to Similar Cities" Aug. 16, concluded that the department should have a standard staff of 86, including a fire chief, two deputy chiefs and five captains. The city, however, has a staff of 104, 97 of them sworn firefighters.

D'Orazi contends ICMA's overstaffing claim is void, "Ambulance Services make AFD Special Aug. 23, because unlike most cities in the Bay Area, Alameda runs its own ambulance service.

The ICMA report also states, "the city has more stations than recommended by the ISO survey." D'Orazi believes the statement is false. "This statement is flatly contradicted by the ISO study which states the current distribution of fire station in Alameda is within the recognized criteria for both trucks and engines, and firefighters," stated D'Orazi in the memo. D'Orazi has contradicted numerous ICMA positions.

To view the four AFD studies, visit the city of Alameda website. Contact Ekene Ikeme at eikeme@ alamedasun.com.

 

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