In December of 2017, the Davis Fire Department contracted with consultants from Fitch & Associates to perform an assessment of the Davis Fire Department’s effectiveness and vulnerabilities. According to the staff report, the report assessed a thorough review of data over the past five years including resource configuration, call volume, workload, historical resource response data, response coverage, existing threats, and facility and apparatus needs.
It then identified 13 recommendations for council consideration. Overall, the report states that “the department is performing slightly below proposed baseline performance objectives within the current system. There are opportunities for significant performance improvement with modest, yet strategic investments.
“The community enjoys high quality services from a professional and well-trained department,” the report finds. “Except for constant ladder truck service, the department’s distribution and concentration delivery models are appropriately aligned with the Department’s unique risks. However, there are areas that the Department can make incremental system adjustments to improve.”
The first recommendation would be to do “a community-focused Strategic Plan to assist in prioritizing Department initiatives and budgeting for initiatives.” The report finds, “The Strategic Plan, in partnership with the Community Risk Assessment and Standards of Cover would assist in the prioritization of the consultant recommendations.”
Second, it would reevaluate internal performance objectives. On January 29, 2013, the council adopted response performance goals.
The report notes: “At the time, staff noted that the DFD did not meet performance standards 50 percent of the time for at least 13 years. It was noted that absent realigning fire station locations, these were unrealistic response time goals. When the Council adopted NFPA [National Fire Protection Association] 1710 performance goals, it was done for one year. Staff was directed to return in one year to update the Council on the performance status and to revisit the issue. No annual updates have occurred.”
Third, they recommend the city adopt and monitor total response time performance goals.
The report notes: “The Department has not established goals for total response time performance goals prior to the completion of this SOC. In most instances, the Department does not meet nationally recommended goals for call processing and turnout times.”
Because the city has both urban and rural areas, the report recommends the fire department adopt separate response performance goals for the urban zone and the rural zone.
Fourth, the department “has not established goals for call processing time performance prior to the completion of this SOC. The Department does not meet nationally recommended benchmarks for call processing, although for the EMS Program, the DFD almost meets benchmarks.”
The report notes that reducing the call processing time is a component in reducing total response time.
Fifth, the report notes that turnout time, the time between when the call is received and units are en route, impacts overall response times. Here too, the department has not established goals.
Sixth, the report recommends that the fire department adopt and monitor travel time performance goals, which once again it has not established.
The report finds: “The department currently is performing (2017) at a 6-minute travel time for all fire related incidents. It is recommended that the City and Department codify a 6-minute travel time as the systems baseline objective while maintain the ability to continuously improve towards NFPA 1710 if desired.”
Seventh, the report recommends evaluating dispatch and technology integration opportunities.
“Regional dispatch solutions in the fire service can offer data integration, service performance and common operating pictures for the DFD as well as mutual and automatic aid resources,” the report says, but warns that “call processing times can take longer…”
The report notes, “As of July 1, 2018, the DFD is the only fire agency in Yolo County not dispatched by the Yolo Emergency Communications Agency.”
Eighth, the report recommends, “The DFD should develop a target hazard dispatch that would send additional fire apparatus and personnel to medium and high risk occupancies on initial first alarm structure fire dispatches. Extra resources would include a second ladder truck and one additional engine company.”
The report finds: “The lack of a larger initial fire response combined with extended response of fire resources outside of the City of Davis could increase damage as there are insufficient personnel on the first alarm response to effectively limit loss.”
Ninth: “It is recommended that the City of Davis invest in their own ladder truck.”
They write: “A community the size of the City of Davis with the complexity of risk should not be without consistent ladder truck service or depend on an apparatus from distant communities when the UC Davis apparatus is unavailable.”
Tenth, “The City of Davis and the DFD would benefit from a comprehensive fleet and infrastructure analysis and long-term replacement funding. Two of the three fire stations are more than 50 years old and are at or nearing the end of their effective life span. In addition, new building code and building safety improvements would ensure functional facilities for generations and support the overall wellness and safety of DFD employees.”
Furthermore, they find, “The DFD would benefit from a contemporary training facility located in the City as crews could train in Davis which would increase local availability for emergency calls.”
However, they warn: “Significant budgetary resources would be necessary to implement this recommendation.”
The 11th recommendation is the relation of a fire station to optimize system performance.
“There will soon come a time when the City of Davis will need to invest in fire station replacements,” they write. “Instead of rebuilding on the existing fire station sites, it is recommended that any new fire station and training facility be built at locations to best serve the current and projected service demands. New locations for the City of Davis fire stations would improve system performance.”
There are “several optimal fire station locations based on service demands and community development.”
Twelfth, they recommend modifying utilization of Rescue 31, which currently “the DFD sends a minimum of three personnel on all calls, including low risk EMS calls. In addition, for simultaneous calls in DFD response zones, both Rescue 31 and an engine from another area respond, even though critical tasking for that call requires less than five personnel.”
Finally, “To deliver higher levels of service on the most frequent type of a call, EMS, the DFD should evaluate the feasibility of providing first responder paramedic ALS services from engine and rescue companies.”
The report notes: “There are service level advantages of delivering two paramedics to the scene of every high risk EMS call, even though they arrive on different vehicles. The two paramedics can simultaneously deliver ALS care, care for multiple patients, or in cases of technical rescues like a vehicle accident with entrapment, a firefighter/paramedic can access the patient in hazardous areas where a nonsafety, civilian ambulance paramedic cannot safety operate.”
However, “The Yolo County EMS Agency would need to agree to a service level change that would allow, and regulate, the DFD paramedics. There is only one other fire agency in Yolo County currently proving fire-based ALS service, the Yocha Dehe Fire Department.”
At this point, council is being asked to direct staff to perform “a cost-benefit analysis of staffing and overtime level options including the planning for and provision of training,” as well as to return to council with future discussion items on all matters requiring policy guidance, including but not limited to staffing levels, service delivery levels and performance objectives, fire station facilities planning.
—David M. Greenwald reporting