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"The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year."
– Mark Twain  
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  Volume No. 16 Issue No. 4 April 2019  

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  Numbers, personnel and ambulances
  By Robin Widmar

   A lot of people do not find statistics interesting, but data is an increasingly driving force in the fire service. Fire departments across the country gather data and use it to show their citizens what they do on a daily, monthly and yearly basis. Fire department leaders also use statistical information to identify trends and determine operational needs.
   
   In 2018, the Falcon Fire Protection District received a record 2,665 calls for service, which is a 6.5 percent increase from 2017 (2,502 calls) and 32.5 percent more than 2014 (2,011). Of that total, emergency medical services, motor vehicle accidents and rescues comprised 66 percent of the 2018 total call volume. Just over half (55.5 percent) of EMS incidents and motor vehicle accidents resulted in at least one patient being transported by ambulance to a local hospital.
   
   Falcon firefighters responded to 83 structure, wildland, vehicle and other fires in 2018. It was a dry year, with the first of many Red Flag Warnings for El Paso County occurring at the end of January. The county enacted Stage 1 and Stage 2 fire restrictions beginning in March and ending July 30 because of ongoing drought conditions. Significant wildfires:
  • Feb. 14: Garrett Road and U.S. Highway 24 (about 32 acres)
  • March 20: Woodmen Road (about 242 acres
  • April 2: Highway 24 fire (about 386 acres, evacuations ordered)

   The people behind the scenes
   Many residents are familiar with the Falcon firefighters who assist them during emergencies, help with community events and give safety presentations at their children’s schools. But there are some other support personnel to help keep the Falcon Fire Department running smoothly and efficiently.
   
   Fire chief: The fire chief is responsible for the overall operation and administration of the fire department. Duties include managing the annual budget, overseeing mutual and automatic aid agreements with other county fire agencies and managing the budget.
   
   Deputy chief of operations: This position combines operations, support and administration responsibilities, including oversight of buildings, grounds and apparatus; overseeing staffing; maintaining the department’s communications systems; and responding to emergency incidents.
   
   Office manager: The office manager serves as the executive administrative assistant with duties that include payroll, bookkeeping, reception and overall administrative support.
   
   Training captain: The training captain oversees training and certifications for the department’s firefighters. Training is a critical activity for firefighters to help them operate safely and efficiently in emergency situations.
   
   Fleet technician: The FFPD fleet technician (mechanic) is responsible for repairing and maintaining the agency’s emergency apparatus and support vehicles.
   
   Public information officer/data analyst: This combined position handles release of information to the public, monitors the fire department’s social media accounts and develops statistical data regarding department operations.
   
   Chaplains: FFPD is fortunate to have two volunteer chaplains who provide spiritual support and comfort to both department personnel and the public they serve.
   
   These are just brief descriptions, as each person has additional responsibilities beyond what is listed. Additionally, an EMS division chief will be hired later in 2019 to oversee ambulance transport operations and emergency medical services for the district.
   
   Ambulance updates
   During the first week of January, FFPD personnel spent time at the Life Line Emergency Vehicle plant doing final specifications for the new ambulances. Life Line was chosen as the vendor following extensive research and evaluation that began in December 2017. Current anticipated delivery of the two ambulances is August 2019.
   
   FFPD has created a webpage to post updates on the fire district’s progress with ambulance transport and other operations. Visit http://www.falconfirepd.org/about-the-department/2019-updates
   
   Stay connected with the Falcon Fire Protection District
   Website: http://www.falconfirepd.org
   Facebook: Falcon Fire Department
   Twitter: @FalconFireDept
   NextDoor.com
  
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  Safety Tip - Stay on top of weather
  By Robin Widmar

   El Paso County’s topography –- and the entire Front Range –- can make accurate weather forecasts a challenge for even experienced meteorologists. A storm predicted to arrive in the afternoon/evening of Jan. 18 arrived mid-morning, catching many residents off-guard and snarling traffic in the northern and eastern sections of the county. Three days later, a blizzard arrived almost exactly when it was predicted during the nighttime hours of Jan. 21 into Jan. 22.
   
   Late winter into spring is typically when the Front Range sees the most snow. Residents should always stay on top of the weather and be prepared for the unexpected.
   
   Information resources
  • National Weather Service – Pueblo
    • Website: weather.gov/pub/
    • Social Media: Facebook (@NWSPueblo) and Twitter (@NWSPueblo)
  • Local news outlets (television and radio stations, as well as their websites and social media)
  • Follow commercial websites such as Accuweather.com or weather.com
  • Monitor an NOAA Weather Radio

   Understand weather terminology
  • Winter weather advisory: A significant winter storm or other hazardous winter weather is occurring or imminent, and is an inconvenience.
  • Winter storm watch: Significant winter weather (heavy snow, sleet, freezing rain or a combination of these) is expected but not imminent for the watch area. Severe winter weather is possible within 12 to 36 hours.
  • Winter storm warning: A significant winter storm or hazardous winter weather is occurring, imminent or likely, and is a threat to life and property.
  • Blizzard warning: Winter storms with winds of 35 mph or higher, blowing snow that reduces visibility to a quarter mile or less for at least three hours, and dangerous wind chills.

   Prepare a vehicle emergency kit
   FEMA’s Ready.gov website suggests the following items for car emergency kits:
  • Shovel, small broom and windshield scraper
  • Flashlight, battery powered radio and extra batteries
  • Water and non-perishable, high energy foods like unsalted canned nuts, dried fruits and hard candy
  • Necessary medications
  • Extra hats, socks, mittens and blankets
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • First aid kit with pocket knife or multi-tool
  • Tow chain or rope, booster cables
  • Road salt, sand or non-clumping kitty litter
  • Emergency flares, fluorescent distress flag and/or brightly colored cloth

   Tips for winter travel
  • Dress appropriately for winter weather conditions (coat, long pants, boots, gloves, hat, etc.).
  • Ensure cell phones are charged, and carry a mobile charger.
  • Make sure vehicles are ready for the trip (full fuel tanks, good tires, heater and defroster work properly).
  • Know the vehicle you are driving; for example: location of the spare tire and jack; tow points on the vehicle (if any).
  • Take a towel to keep interior windows clear.
  • If main roads are closed, do not attempt side roads as they could be worse.
  • Expect the unexpected, and have alternate plans.
  
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