City Council agrees to six additional firefighters

City Council agrees to six additional firefighters

Increases AFD’s new hires from 12 to 18 for new Station 5

It’s going to be a little more crowded at Apopka Fire Station 5 when it opens in July of 2017, and for good reason.

In order to solve a longstanding manpower issue, be in compliance with a federal policy and a state law, the City Council gave unanimous consensus to increase the number of new firefighter positions on the Apopka Fire Department roster from 12 to 18 to staff the new station.

AFD Fire Chief Chuck Carnesale made his case at the City Council budget workshop yesterday.

APD Fire Chief Chuck Carnesale proposed an addition of six firefighters.
APD Fire Chief Chuck Carnesale proposed an additional six firefighters.

“I was on the job (as Fire Chief) about two weeks and didn’t get a chance to review the budget properly,” he said. “I have since had time to look at this budget and speak to my staff, and I have come across a deficiency to bring to your attention. We have not added a single new-firefighter position in 15 years. (But) Apopka has added 15,000 residents (according to US Census data), and annexed 10 square miles of land. We have also increased in calls (for service) by 350 per year. Every day we are running more accidents on the 414, 429, 451 and The Wekiva Parkway. That’s putting pressure on our services.”

After outlining AFD’s staffing challenges, Carnesale proposed what he believes it will take to overcome the issue.

“We have 75 firefighters at the AFD, which is 3 shifts of 25 firefighters… 24 hours on and 48 hours off. We were proposing 12 new firefighters for Station 5, keeping in mind that is 3 shifts and 4 firefighters per shift. We are going to propose six additional (firefighters) for a total of 18 for Station 5.”

Part of the reason for additional firefighters is a firefighting standard called “two-in, two-out” according to Carnesale.

Two-in, two-out refers to a United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) policy that mandates firefighters never go into a dangerous situation in a fire or rescue incident alone, and that there be two firefighters outside the hazard area to initiate a rescue of the firefighters inside should they need to be rescued during the incident where only one crew is operating in the hazard area. The State of Florida adopted the OSHA policy and made it a law.

Carnesale also pointed out this is not an “ISO” issue, which stands for the Insurance Services Office, a private corporation that evaluates industries for insurance rating purposes. Every evaluation results in a rating from 1 to 10 for the evaluated department. A rating of 1 is the best.

“This does not affect ISO. We are a Class 1 (rated) ISO fire department. We are talking about manpower and how we can effectively do our jobs. ISO is about measuring how quickly we can get a fire truck on the scene. We’re doing that right now.”

The proposed budget for the AFD is $11,466,788; which includes the construction of Fire Station #5, and the additional 18 firefighters.

Commissioner Kyle Becker sees this as a necessity for the new station.

“Chief Carnesale’s request for additional resources was clearly a need for the new Station 5, and will go to ensure adequate staffing for the large area it will serve. The volume of calls in Rock Springs Ridge and Northwest Recreation Complex alone was eye-opening for me. Station 2 which currently covers that geographic area ran 1,200 calls in the last year, 400, or a third, of the calls were to Rock Springs Ridge alone, of which 80-90% were EMS. Having these additional resources to maintain the two-in, two-out standard is critical to the safety of both residents and the firefighters themselves.”

Commissioner Doug Bankson agreed with Becker, and looked to the future when The City of Apopka will be adding Fire Station 6.

“Safety is our first priority and responsibility and with the new state regulations and presentation from the fire chief it is obvious that we must make these additions. We also need to be forward thinking as within a couple years we will again have to add not only a sixth station but additional 18 firefighters as well as equipment. We are catching up from the lean years with much infrastructure needs, and it is in the best interest of our citizens to get ahead of the curve. This predicates our need to return to the pre-economic downturn levels of property tax as well as factoring in impact fees so that new growth can help pay for added services. We must find a balance between services and low taxes. This is not only beneficial to our citizens, but through economic developement we can create new revenues that will continue to keep our services high and taxes low.”

 

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8 Comments

  1. Michael Heaton

    Nice to see our city officials continuing to look forward as our past officials and planning for years in the future for the safety and betterment of all the citizens of Apopka!

    Reply
  2. Mama Mia

    I am not disputing the new fire chief, however some things go unanswered in my book, as to some of things I have read, or heard. Things that come up and are said from time to time at the different council meetings such as claims that we haven’t hired, any new police officers in over 10 years, I heard that one a good while back……or that we haven’t hired any new firefighters positions in over 15 years. Now I am not disputing the chiefs from either department now, or chiefs from the recent past either, but when I go to the council meetings, and I see the various city employees come up and stand before the council members to get their service pins, and shake hands, and stand for their photos, I see plenty of 5 year pins, 10 year pins, and 15 year and beyond, from all departments, so how can you explain that? I am not one who runs up to city hall requesting records left and right, but I am just stating what is obvious to me. I am sure other citizens that see this and hear this think the same way that I do………or maybe they don’t.

    Reply
    1. Blair

      the fire chief didn’t say we didn’t hire any new firefighters in 15 years, of course we did. He said we haven’t added any NEW firefighter positions. Positions being the key word!! The fire department replaces or fills positions as soon as someone leaves or retires. The chief was referring to NEW positions. Example… Someone retires, or leaves so someone is promoted. That opens up a lower level position for a firefighter/emt or medic. And so forth. Just like in any position in the city. Police, dispatch for example. Those positions are already in the budget. Say someone retires or leaves that is not a “NEW” position it’s one already in the budget. That’s all.
      We have the best response time than any other local fire departments. Did you know that our response time to almost anywhere in the city is 3-5 minutes but not in the north part of the city. It’s taking 6-8 minutes that’s why we need station 5 with six people. We have grown so much!

      Reply
  3. Mama Mia

    Blair, you said up above in your posting that station 5 needs six people, but isn’t it 12 people already allowed to be hired, and then the council approved 6 additional firefighters for station 5, isn’t that what they come up with, that they claimed they needed??? Oh I know the fire department is great, I never doubted that ever.

    Reply
    1. Blair

      i apologize for the confusion. I don’t see where I said 6 people. But It should be 6 per shift. There are 3 shifts. So they would need 12-18 new firefighters. Like the article said. Council approved 6 I believe.
      You have to have a certain amount of people per equipment. Take Station 1 for example. That is the main station so there is more equipment there. Meaning trucks. You have 2 engines, 2
      Ambulances, a brush truck, the tower truck, rescue truck. Not to mention other equipment there. It’s all listed on the city site I believe. You have to enough manpower so to speak to man those trucks. They don’t all respond to ALL calls. Each call is unique & varies on what trucks go. Station 2,3,4 and soon 5 have their own trucks & equipment that require man power.

      Reply
  4. Mama Mia

    Thank you Blair for that info. Do you know if the all firefighters will be rotated around to all the different stations eventually, or will certain crews stay at certain stations? Have you heard if the new station will be built on Jason Dwelley Parkway or will it be built somewhere else, for the north’s needs?

    Reply
  5. Mama Mia

    I am guessing that the future station 6 will be out towards the new hospital area? When is that fire station supposed to be built, is it 2018? Have you heard any proposed location mentioned out that way, Blair?

    Reply

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