For Immediate Release
Fire Station Closures to Increase
Beginning Friday, July 10, 2009, the Springfield Fire Department's rotating closures will increase to two units per day on some days until Monday, Sept. 7, when the five firefighters hired this month are ready to go into active service.
The one or two units will continue to be closed on a rotating basis as necessary depending on each day’s staffing level for the next two months. On some days, closing two units will mean shutting down two fire stations for a 24-hour period.
The Department is operating with 23 vacant positions from the authorized staffing level of 212 and began a rotating closure of one unit when daily staffing fell below a certain minimum level on April 27. Since that time, one unit has been shut down on 50 of 71 days.
Five new firefighters began training this week and will be ready to go into active service in about six weeks. In the meantime, the vacancy level, combined with a normal leave requests, will necessitate the shutdown of a second unit on certain days over the next two months.
The Fire Department is committed to maintaining its public-safety response for the highest possible level of fire protection with as minimal disruption as possible to the community.
“By rotating the closures, we have been able to spread the risk throughout the community. So far we have been very fortunate to minimize the impact without any major incidents,” Co-Interim Fire Chief David Hall said. “While we realize that each additional closure, and the longer closures remain in effect, increases the risk to all citizens, the department is committed to using the overtime funds that are available throughout the budget year to maximize staffing levels so the impact to citizens is minimized.”
Hall estimates the Fire Department will use about $10,000 of its annual overtime budget to maintain station closures at two instead of three during the next 60 days.
After the new firefighters are placed in their stations on Sept. 7, the Fire Department will still be 18 positions below authorized staffing. It will continue to be necessary to close one unit on certain days, but the additional employees should prevent the need to close two units on any given day.
The Fire Department operates 16 units at 12 stations. Four Fire Stations house two units, so one unit will continue to remain in service at those stations because of their higher call volumes. But when the rotation hits stations with only one unit, it necessitates closing one or two stations for that 24-hour shift. The Fire Department believes it is more equitable to all citizens to rotate the closures among all 12 stations during this period.
When unit shutdowns requires station closings, the information is posted on the City’s Web site, www.springfieldmo.gov, and signs are posted at the stations with information to contact 911 or a non-emergency phone number. Each fire station has an emergency call phone located outside where walk-up visitors can call for emergency assistance.
With the possibility for two stations to be closed on certain days, the City also will issue a daily news release to major media outlets updating the status of the fire stations by approximately 9 a.m. each day in addition to posting the information on the City homepage.
When one unit is out of service, and there is working fire in progress, the department will operate in a crisis mode level 1, which includes the following procedures:
- The Department is reducing the number of vehicles sent initially to each type of call.
- The Department is not providing mutual aid to area departments.
- The Department is not responding to haz-mat or water-rescue calls outside of Springfield.
- If the Department has two working fires at once, it will switch to a crisis mode level 2, which limits its response on certain types of non-emergency EMS calls; it may make emergency personnel callbacks; and it may request mutual-aid assistance from neighboring departments to cover in Springfield.
On the days when two units are out of service, these additional procedures will be place:
- Operate at Level 1 crisis mode (outlined above) even when not operating at a fire;
- Switch to Level 2 crisis mode when operating at one fire (outlined above.)
For media information: Co-Interim Fire Chief Randy Villines is working out of the office today. He will be available for media interviews between 3 and 4 p.m. at Fire Station No. 5 at 2750 W. Kearney St.
Co-Interim Fire Chief David Hall is out of the office today.
If any media members need to arrange an interview a time other than 3-4 p.m. today, please contact Louise Whall, Director of Public Information, 864-1010.