First Responder Service - How Much Does it REALLY Cost?

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First Responder Service - How Much Does it REALLY Cost?

Post by Admin on Tue Jul 29, 2008 10:05 pm

There are a couple of people in town, including a couple on the Finance Committee, that have jumped up and down and hollered about how much our Fire Department would save is they didnít provide First Responder Service to our community. Well, we have obtained the actual figures on how much it really cost to provide this service to our town people.


Cost for fuel for the truck Ė $921.22

Overtime for additional coverage - $837.60

Training, supplies, books, oxygen and licenses - $3,197.16

Thatís a grand total of $4,955.98.

It cost less than $5,000 for our Fire Department to provide First Responder Service to the injured and sick members of our community. Often times our Firemen arrived on scene faster than the ambulance crew, providing emergency first aid and medical care. The assistance they provided also allowed our paramedics to fully concentrate on providing medical care to their patients and moved them to the hospital quicker. This seems like a pretty nice benefit for our town for a relatively small cost. It leaves us wondering what all the fuss was really about.
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Re: First Responder Service - How Much Does it REALLY Cost?

Post by steve on Wed Jul 30, 2008 9:43 am

Why am I not surprised?! Even if the Fire Department arrived first in 10% of the calls and provided life-saving measures in only 10% of that 10%, isn't it worth $5000.00 against a person's life? As for the fuss, there's no wondering required; certain people (read: citizens) have a personal vendetta against the fire and police departments. These same persons are the ones that would cry the loudest if their house or family member was in danger of succummbing to fire or injury. And yes, TRR, the FD does occasionally travel the wrong way on Congress Street...just as they have been for decades...with no problems of which I'm aware. Give it a rest!!

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Re: First Responder Service - How Much Does it REALLY Cost?

Post by C on Wed Jul 30, 2008 4:40 pm

That equates to how much per year per taxpayer? (I'm not sure how many taxpayers we have...) I'm sure if it were put to public vote and worded "First responder service for Rumford will cost X dollars per taxpayer, per year..." most likely the majority would want to pay that small amount for the added safety of our citizens. In many emergencies if someone with medical training can get there a few precious seconds earlier it can make the difference between life and death.
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Re: First Responder Service - How Much Does it REALLY Cost?

Post by T on Thu Jul 31, 2008 11:09 am

Admin wrote:There are a couple of people in town, including a couple on the Finance Committee, that have jumped up and down and hollered about how much our Fire Department would save is they didnít provide First Responder Service to our community.

Admin wrote:It leaves us wondering what all the fuss was really about.
Well, it has nothing to do with "Integrity, Accountability, & Fiscal responsibility".

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Re: First Responder Service - How Much Does it REALLY Cost?

Post by Timeout on Fri Jan 23, 2009 7:51 am

Not every community in the state offers this program. It is a great idea and model for other communities with a widespread geographic base. That is why it made Rumford a LEADER FOR THE REST OF THE STATE.

The same good thinking that accomplished this can surely come up with a solution to provide both timely and cost effective service to ALL the residents of Rumford...make it work!
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Re: First Responder Service - How Much Does it REALLY Cost?

Post by C on Fri Jan 23, 2009 8:38 am

Timeout wrote:Not every community in the state offers this program. It is a great idea and model for other communities with a widespread geographic base. That is why it made Rumford a LEADER FOR THE REST OF THE STATE!



"The program developed by Rumford has
become a model adopted by other fire departments in Farmington,
Waterville and
other towns," Bradshaw said.
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Re: First Responder Service - How Much Does it REALLY Cost?

Post by gadget6412 on Fri Jan 23, 2009 1:46 pm

I think I read somewhere that around 200 calls were made in the last year that the RFD was making the responce call, so I use that number in the analysis below.

Fuel 921.22 divided by 200 calls = 4.60 per call (estimate a low 2.00 per gallon =2.3 gallons)
Overtime 837.60 divided by 200 calls = 4.188 per call
Training 3196.16 divided by 200 calls = 15.99 per call

A total of $24.78 per call. I would question that amount in my head just as the 50-90,000. In budgeting, all aspects have to be taken into account. What is the mileage involved with the calls and the cost per mile for the trucks which includes the wear and tear replacment, depreciation, maintenance, fuel, parts and other things. Is the training for the rapid response alone or does the fire fighter have to have this training, this would reduce that 3196 per call cost?

I am not disputing either side but like other people have added, I would like to see some real and resonable numbers. Somewhere the chief, town accountant and selectmen should be able to come to an agreement of an amount and present the facts to the people to decide on.
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Re: First Responder Service - How Much Does it REALLY Cost?

Post by Captain on Fri Jan 23, 2009 7:05 pm

The average fire truck in this area will lose it's valvue due to the age not the mileage. Most trucks are replaced at certian time intervales. This will happen even if it only responds to fires and accidents.

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Re: First Responder Service - How Much Does it REALLY Cost?

Post by Mainiac1 on Fri Jan 23, 2009 8:25 pm

I can tell you exactly how, when, and what action was taken in regards to the first responder program. After last years budget was finalized, the voters approved the final fire department budget at the secret ballot polls, and also voted their approval of the services provided questioneer on that ballot. At the next selectmen's meeting Mark Belanger spoke up and challenged the necessity of the fire department responding to emergency calls. It was explained that the cost of that service was included in the approved budget and also that the voters wanted the fire department services provided to remain intact. Mark was not satisified. So we asked then Chief Woulf to come to a meeting and give us a cost analysis of the first responder service. Chief Woulf could not provide an exact figure as to the exact cost of this service. It was included in his annual budget, he did not feel that it was excessive in cost, and where we had trained personel, up to date equipment, and ensured an 'active and involved' fire department, he never broke the cost down specifically. He had not been challenged in this arena before. The chief insisted that it did not cost anywhere near the ninety thousand dollars that Mark thought it did and to prove that we all agreed to the following. Chief Woulf would monitor each time a team or truck went out on an emegency call, and keep track of the type of emergency, the number of people called out, the number of people needed to backfill the station, update us on training and quipment cost, and report those findings in six months following. That unfortunately never happened due to Chief Woulf's leaving the department. That is the realityof this situation. So if anyone thinks they know what the figures are or might be, it is speculation. Chief Woulf had put six budgets together during his tenure and had brought this fire deparment from being a reactive force to a proactive and involved fire department recognized as one of the state's finest without any major increases in udgets from year to year. For the town manger and selectmen to challenge overtime issues or how money is being spent within the approved budget is within their realm of juristiction as provided in the town charter, however to remove a level of service that has been approved by the majority of voters at the polls is not in their realm to remove, unless the voters approve to remove that service by due process which means going to the polls and voting on it.

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Re: First Responder Service - How Much Does it REALLY Cost?

Post by xmashen on Fri Jan 23, 2009 9:19 pm

Mainiac1, all i can say is THANKS for providing a report that is knowledgeable and informed.

It's clear that people with axes to grind (obviously not fire axes) have manipulated things and everyone else just swallowed it.

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Re: First Responder Service - How Much Does it REALLY Cost?

Post by xmashen on Fri Jan 23, 2009 9:22 pm

oh, can i also say that i hate it when i scroll " latest posts " and 80% are from me! maybe it's just the time of day i log on....

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Re: First Responder Service - How Much Does it REALLY Cost?

Post by KevinNSaisi on Fri Jan 23, 2009 10:00 pm

xmashen wrote:oh, can i also say that i hate it when i scroll " latest posts " and 80% are from me! maybe it's just the time of day i log on....

Been there Rolling Eyes Very Happy
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Re: First Responder Service - How Much Does it REALLY Cost?

Post by C on Fri Jan 23, 2009 10:11 pm

What is Belanger's "beef" with the FD?
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Re: First Responder Service - How Much Does it REALLY Cost?

Post by gadget6412 on Fri Jan 23, 2009 10:43 pm

I agree that this should be placed before the people to vote on. But somewhere along the line, a true picture of the cost and benefit must be presented. While the average cost to the individual tax payer might be minimal, the tax base of the town is shrinking. The mill is cutting back, the population has declined over the years, the State is reducing funding and it seems that section 8 is growing. Which programs do you cut or reduce? I would want a true budget with all of the costs in it.

If each year there is always overtime, then the time was not properly forecasted and budgeted for. When there are complaints that wages are being cut because overtime is being trimmed back, I believe there is a ligitimacy to look at a budget. Overtime is not a norm, it should be there for the unpredicted events such as unaccounted for number of fires, fires that take more time to fight than studies show, unpredicted sickness in the teams, items such as this. Studies should be able to show what is the pattern of the past years and forecast for the inflation of costs and prices such as fuel, electricity, training, fire fighting equipment, etc...

If the vote was the service should stay then this should be in the budget. If the vote was for a service an then modified, then the service must go back to the level it was voted on upon discovery until it can be voted on again. The voting process cannot be there for when it best suits one party, it must be consistent.
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Re: First Responder Service - How Much Does it REALLY Cost?

Post by T on Fri Jan 23, 2009 10:58 pm

gadget6412, your post seems to focus on overtime. How does the First Responder Service relate to overtime?

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Re: First Responder Service - How Much Does it REALLY Cost?

Post by T on Fri Jan 23, 2009 11:01 pm

Never mind...I found my answer elsewhere. Very Happy

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Re: First Responder Service - How Much Does it REALLY Cost?

Post by KevinNSaisi on Fri Jan 23, 2009 11:20 pm

Might I remind everyone that we the people have no vote in much of town government. The water and sewer districts and NORSWB are run by people appointed by the selectmen. We have no vote on their budget, much less how the departments run. However, after making numerous accusations that the selectmen micro-manage town departments, several members want to do just that themselves.

This is a department level decision. If it is affordable, the Fire Chief could decide to reinstate the service. The problem is that the actions of the majority of the finance board lead the people to believe that great savings could be had by cutting the service. When the people made the cuts, based upon what appears to be inaccurate information, it caused problems in the operation of the department beyond the "intended" areas.

I am told that there is a very real possibility that the fire department will run out of money before June. Unless Gary has enacted processes to squeak by using funds set aside for things such as capital improvements or safety gear, we may see a special town meeting to authorize additional money to keep the department running. Gary is a smart man who I believe has the ability to find a way to make it through, but we need to remember that whereever the money comes from, it is causing an additional hardship on the department.
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Re: First Responder Service - How Much Does it REALLY Cost?

Post by gadget6412 on Sat Jan 24, 2009 12:00 am

T
Sorry, that was not my intention.

Kevin, I agree that the voters do not run the departments during the year as that is why the selectmen were voted in, but as a taxpayer, they do have a right to question the budget at an annual voters meeting. While I am unsure of Rumford's process, this is how I have encountered these processes, and I bow to be corrected if I am wrong.

I was attempting to establish that all of the duties that the departments (not just the RFD) might be involved in during the year should be evaluated, presented with truth to the finance committee or whoever is in charge of the process, and approved or modified. As you have pointed out as what might happen to the FD in June, something has slipped by.
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Re: First Responder Service - How Much Does it REALLY Cost?

Post by FireDawg314 on Sun Jan 25, 2009 1:41 am

gadget6412 wrote:
If each year there is always overtime, then the time was not properly forecasted and budgeted for. When there are complaints that wages are being cut because overtime is being trimmed back, I believe there is a ligitimacy to look at a budget. Overtime is not a norm, it should be there for the unpredicted events such as unaccounted for number of fires, fires that take more time to fight than studies show, unpredicted sickness in the teams, items such as this. Studies should be able to show what is the pattern of the past years and forecast for the inflation of costs and prices such as fuel, electricity, training, fire fighting equipment, etc...


Gadget, I'm not sure what your experience/knowledge base is on this, but quite the opposite is actually true. Overtime does not mean that the budget has been exceeded it is simply payroll expenses that are above and beyond the standard work week. Overtime is a norm because you need to take into consideration the amount of time that personnel can take off compared to minimum staffing levels, etc. Take a look at the line item budget of any fire dept that has full time personnel and you should find a line that is "Overtime". That is because a good manager is able to predict what will be needed based on the items you mentioned as well as the filling of routine time off to meet staffing requirements.
Knowing what I do about the department, the numbers, especially that of the overtime, given in the original post are very reasonably accurate.
Something else to think about is that just because there are complaints of overtime being cut does not mean that it is simply because of money hungry firefighters. The easiest way to reduce overtime costs is to reduce minimum staffing to the lowest level allowed by the union contract, if it is even specified in the contract. Unfortunately what this has done is allowed it so that only 2 firefighters are on duty at some times. While I do truly believe that having something for a staffing is better than nothing, when you have a virtually non-existent call company it creates for an unsafe situation. Just something else to consider.
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Re: First Responder Service - How Much Does it REALLY Cost?

Post by gadget6412 on Sun Jan 25, 2009 11:32 am

Firedawg, I do know about plannng procedures and scheduling, which includes budgeting, I do admit that I do not know about firehouse planning but it is still nothing more than a production control process. As you stated the overtime might be a line item in the budget for unforcasted times which is not a norm such as sickness, death in the family or fires that may last awhile but not a norm so that it is an expected item in wages. If it is a line item in a budget and the budget is exceeded by not just a small amount but 10s of thousands of dollars then there is speculation of poor management if it continually happens year after year. Again, I am not debating overtime, but what was presented as excessive overtime, my intention was a budget and this is not an accusation, just a debate on the subject of exceeding a budget.

If there is continued requirement for overtime, then there should be a basis for negotiation for more crew. If the union contract established a minimum manning then somewhere along the way, the two parties had to come to an agreement this is what the town could get by with, maybe that was with the on call fire crew at that time. Wasn't a part time firefighter hired to cover the times indicated reducing the requirement of overtime costs of time and a half or double time.

I see this in the military, where if we do not spend more then the money we forecasted then we cannot establish a requirement for more money for the future year and they want to cut what we know we need as a minimum just because an event may not have happened as scheduled.

I do admit that I do not know the history of the fire department manning requirement, the size of the call force then or now or the persons involved with the department or the union. I give credit to the fire chief to fight for what the departmen needs not what the union or town wants, be that more crew, more time, or better wages.

Again, this is not a finger pointing contest, just someone from the outside looking in. I value your side and input just as I hope you would appreciate mine. Thanks for the input.


Last edited by gadget6412 on Sun Jan 25, 2009 11:39 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : addition)
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Re: First Responder Service - How Much Does it REALLY Cost?

Post by T on Sun Jan 25, 2009 11:55 am

wrote:then there should be a basis for negotiation for more crew
It seems to me, that some want their cake and to be able to eat it too.

Some want to reduce the force (and it has been) and eliminate overtime while doing so. That's impossible as long as the RFD is manned with fulltime personnel. The smaller the force the greater the overtime. The larger the force, the smaller the overtime. If the force was large enough, overtime could be eliminated completely.

BUT, there is a VOCAL group calling for the reduction (or elimination) of both.

There is a point (size of the force) where paying overtime can actually save the department money.

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Re: First Responder Service - How Much Does it REALLY Cost?

Post by gadget6412 on Sun Jan 25, 2009 12:13 pm

T

Do you know the size of the forces, full time and on call of about 1970-1975, it seems that the RFD was one of the best in the state at that time also and the size now? I ask this as that is when I was growing up there. This would also give me a concept of the size of the force now.


Last edited by gadget6412 on Sun Jan 25, 2009 12:15 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : added wording)
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Re: First Responder Service - How Much Does it REALLY Cost?

Post by T on Sun Jan 25, 2009 12:22 pm

I don't know the numbers. Maybe Mark Tripp could help us out.

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Re: First Responder Service - How Much Does it REALLY Cost?

Post by marktripp on Sun Jan 25, 2009 6:12 pm

I cannot speak for 1970-75 but I can tell you all across the nation call and volunteer departments where thriving in those times up into the 80ís and some even the late 90ís. I do not know about the fulltime #ís then either, but I can find out if you would like. Now you see all call and volunteer departments with smaller numbers. Currently at RFD there are 10 active fulltime members and around ten call force, out of that ten there are about five competent interior attack firefighters. One thing people donít quite understand is the numbers game. Just because there are bodies there doesnít mean they are competent FFís.

Overtime is a direct result of improper staffing and to the best of my knowledge, at least since I have been there the department has always operated within itís budget.
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Re: First Responder Service - How Much Does it REALLY Cost?

Post by FireDawg314 on Sun Jan 25, 2009 10:40 pm

Gadget, I do agree that if there is a continued overexpendature of the budget that there is a problem, either with the manager or operations and that it needs to be looked into. True, you can have unforseen expenses due to say a natural disaster or large scale event, but hopefully there is the ability to seek reimbursement for these.

Also, like you said, a manager is put in a tough spot because their job is to run their department within the allotted budget, however if they consistently run the department well under the budget (fiscally responsible) then how do they then say "We need more money". However if they consistantly overspend in order to show a need, then they are not doing their job. Catch 22 really.

I'm not too familiar with the department's budget over the past several years, but I would tend to agree with Mark in that it has most likely been operated within the budget. Woulfe was very good at that aspect of the position. And also to piggyback on what he said you have to look at the context of the numbers. Yes, there are 10 f/t FFs, but there are only 3 per shift and you might be able to get a couple more f/ters on call back for a major incident. Then with the call FFs you may have 10, but say only 5 are certified to conduct fire attack and the other 5 are only have training allowing them to be used as support personnel (carrying equipment, operating hydrant, assisting with rehab, etc). Then you have to consider how many of those are actually available to respond to the call. Current staffing makes it very hard for RFD to be able to institute offensive actions upon initial arrival. To safely operate at even a room-and-contents fire 10 people are needed, anything larger than that plan on doubling the number. This is why departments in the area rely so heavily on mutual aid. I think that full-time and per-diem staffing in the fire service is very important, but the call personnel are also very important, but the problem is finding the dedicated people to put in the time for the required training.

Could they possibly consider hiring two more people so that there are ideally 4 on per shift with a minimum of 3 in order to save money? possibly, but that is something that would have to be looked into in reference to the current overtime costs, etc. Of course I'd like to know how personnel are hired in Rumford because the past 4 years when I've been looking for a job they have hired I believe 5 people and I've never once seen an advertisement or been informed that they will be hiring and I know many people that would have known that information.
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