The Falcon Fire Protection District held its regular monthly board meeting May 16. All board members were present, along with Richard Shearer, legal counsel for the district.
Ambulance response time data
Representatives from American Medical Response, the current ambulance provider for the city and county, attended the board meeting to discuss what they believe may be inaccurate data published by FFPD in its recent mailers.
Scott Lenn, AMR regional director, said, although AMR was not specifically named, “It makes us look bad as an organization.” He clarified that AMR is not opposed to FFPD’s current efforts, but they want to make sure the data is correct. “We support you guys and want to be good partners,” he said. “We’re here to defend our data.”
Chelsia Baker, AMR systems status manager, said she sends a monthly list of AMR responses in Falcon’s jurisdiction. This report also shows compliance with standards established by the county’s emergency services agency. “Falcon is a 20 or 25 minute response zone as far as ESA (Emergency Services Administration) is concerned,” she said.
FFPD Fire Chief Trent Harwig explained that Falcon’s response time percentiles (the percentage that a unit responds in a given time, or less) are based on one-minute time hacks. The way these times are calculated, 19 minutes and one second or greater falls under the 20-minute hack. A review revealed that FFPD could have stated 144 ambulance response times were greater than 19 minutes and one second. Recalculation of the data brought the total of 20-minute or greater responses to 112. However, Harwig noted that AMR does meet their compliance with the ESA contract by responding in 20 or 25 minutes or less on 90 percent of their emergent responses.
Part of the reason for differences shown by the two agencies is how response times are recorded. Baker said it comes down to discrepancies between the county computer-aided dispatch system and AMR, which can cause a delay in AMR units being dispatched. “We can’t be held accountable if we don’t know we have the call,” she said. Baker noted that ESA exceptions (such as bad weather) and mapping issues also contribute to the differences between AMR and FFPD’s numbers.
Harwig said FFPD does not omit data for ESA exceptions, and its ambulance response data is based on the time that Falcon fire units are dispatched to a call, not when AMR is dispatched. “We do use (the time) when we (Falcon fire units) are toned because we’re looking at what we can provide,” he said.
Board president Dan Kupferer said, “It’s important to remember that the numbers were not put out there to say we want to get rid of AMR.” He said FFPD has two concerns: the uncertainty of future ambulance service and improved ALS (Advanced Life Support) ambulance response times.
Lenn said, “The language could have been better. We took it as an attack to our company, to our response times, to our patient care.” Shawn Howe, AMR operations manager, said, “We would have been happy to see that information before it went out, just making sure that the information to the public is accurate.” He also noted that AMR’s compliance with ESA standards was not mentioned in the FFPD mailers.
Harwig said the FFPD board has not decided whether it will ask voters for a mill levy increase. He said, “We are fortunate to have had a (ambulance) provider for the county” and the district is grateful for the service AMR has provided. Lenn said, “I think what you’re doing is the best thing for your community.”
Board members sworn in plus election of officers
Thomas Kerby and Cory A. Galicia were sworn in by attorney Richard Shearer.
Board president: Daniel L. Kupferer
Board vice president: Thomas Kerby
Secretary: Michael Collins
Treasurer: Cory A. Galicia
Assistant secretary: Joan Hathcock
Harwig said special district attorneys across the state are looking at language similar to previous “de-Brucing” efforts to potentially remove special districts from the negative impacts of the Gallagher Amendment. The board discussed whether a local measure should be placed on the upcoming November ballot and the potential impacts for a concurrent mill levy increase ballot question. Shearer suggested waiting to see how the issue progresses.
Harwig reported that the fiscal year was 33 percent complete as of April 30. The district has received 46 percent of its anticipated revenues and general fund expenses were at 26 percent. Harwig said special ownership taxes were slightly down from 2017.
Harwig reported that reservists logged 603 standby hours in April, up from 363 hours in March. He said the increase is because of the newest recruits starting to pull shifts. A second recruit academy is underway, with 18 recruits remaining from the 20 that started the academy.
Harwig reported that the district had 247 calls for service in April, which is the district’s third highest monthly call volume. The year-to-date total of 847 is 18.8 percent higher than the same period in 2017.
Volunteer pension board
All board members and trustees were present. The fourth quarter 2017 report indicated the volunteer pension fund made just a little more than it spent, closing with a balance of about $566,000.
Land west of Station 3
The board directed legal counsel to draft an agreement between the fire district and Falcon Highlands regarding two parcels of land. The parcel west of FFPD Station 3 was originally sold by the fire district but the transaction was never recorded/finalized. The county wants this land for its reconfiguration of Meridian Road and U.S. Highway 24.
Falcon Highlands has requested that FFPD, as the owner of record, continue to negotiate with the county, arrange for an appraisal, and then transfer any funds received from the sale of the parcel to Falcon Highlands, which FFPD agrees is the rightful owner. In exchange for the time and effort, Falcon Highlands will deed to the fire district an approximately 2-acre strip of land between the fire station and the highway.
Harwig reported that the district is still waiting for the county to provide a list of tracts in the Shilo Mesa exclusion.
No one has contacted FFPD to express interest in leasing the cell tower at FFPD Station 2.