A■ By Mary Ann Morris / Editor
bout $750,000 in Measure U advance monies was granted to the Hemet Fire Department, so Fire Chief Scott Brown can begin his plan to enhance fire and EMS services and re-establish a formalized command structure to address management deficiencies.
The immediate action plan includes filling the battalion chief rank, which required re-establishing that rank back into the system, enhance community service with measurable outcomes, and, as a joint effort between police and fire, implement an emergency dispatch center.
Brown said the fire department will respond to more than 17,000 calls this year, and the department needs a better way to triage these calls, “because we do not need to send an engine to every call.”
Station 5 will become a paramedic engine company to better serve those on the east side of the city.
The main challenge, Brown said, is recruitment and retention.
“We are in a very competitive job market at this point so we need to develop a very aggressive plan to attract the best and the brightest as well as enhancing our emergency services in the bureau,” said Brown. “We need to conduct an independent compensation analysis.”
Brown plans to begin implementing the first of a two-phase plan. Phase one places emphasis on emergency services improvement for fire department, adding three captains and implementing a part-time, peak-demand EMS unit that will run one 10-hour shift three days per week.
“This is extraordinary, and the community should take notice,” said Brown. “I have the full support of our firefighters. What makes this unique is that 67 percent of our calls occur between the hours of 8 a. m. and 10 p. m. We will staff an EMS-dedicated unit to take the load off our engine companies to better manage our resources.”
Additionally, the nurse coordinator contract will be increased to three days per week instead of one, and the part-time emergency services coordinator/disaster management specialist will be converted to a full-time position. That funding was cut in 2008 and is a priority to restore, said Brown.
Performance data will be analyzed to reconfigure the plan as necessary.