Chief's Corner: Ensuring safety for all
Last updated 5/13/2020 at 1:50pm
Fountain residents and visitors,
I have been the fire chief in Fountain for 14 months, and I am truly blessed to be part of this community. The Fountain Fire Department was founded in 1913 and has been an integral part of the community since its organization. The men and women of Fountain Fire are highly trained, extremely motivated, and loyally focused on their core mission of caring for the community. In recent years, we have maintained that close community connection, and have been as busy as ever!
In 2019 we responded to 4,820 incidents, transported 1,739 citizens in our ambulances, and logged 1,549 hours of training. Our department is full service and provides comprehensive fire suppression, emergency medical services, hazardous materials mitigation, and several other response specialties. Our animal rescue program is still in place. Fountain Fire has a very strong emergency medical services component with an advanced scope of medicine, which means that we have numerous care options when a citizen needs an advanced level of emergency medical care.
Research and experience have proven that fires in buildings burn up to 50 percent faster than they did just a few decades ago. This makes the job of firefighting even more dangerous and a safe, rapid fire response with timely application of water on the fire more important than ever before. Our firefighters are highly trained, and we have been adapting our practices to make sure we stay current with fire service trends. In 2019 every Fountain firefighter completed a course in modern fire tactics. We have added the use of environmentally friendly, PFAS-free firefighting foam on every fire to increase the effectiveness of our fire suppression. We will have the national model blue card incident command system for structure fires implemented by the end of the summer 2020.
Fires are devastating, so we work hard to prevent them from happening in the first place. Fountain Fire Marshal Michael Gates inspects numerous occupancies every year in an effort to prevent fires. Do you have a safety plan for your home? Working smoke detectors? Ignition sources in a safe place? I have stood with families at numerous structure fires and have heard "We thought fires happen to other people." Prevention is the best ounce of cure for keeping a fire from happening, and Fountain Fire is here to help the community with inspections, education and training.
Protecting our firefighters and paramedics is also a highest priority, and recent policies and programs have addressed their safety and wellbeing. Vehicle accidents are the second leading cause of deaths for firefighters. Calls where response vehicles respond using lights and sirens involve higher speeds and create more opportunities for accidents. I have, therefore, implemented several new policies to help keep our citizens and firefighters safe. For example, we no longer respond to vehicle accidents without injuries with lights and sirens. Bonfires, small fires that are not spreading, and calls where there is no life threat get a no lights and siren response. Of course, calls for service where there is a potential life threat will get a lights and siren response every time, and we take all safety measures into account to arrive on scene and provide assistance as quickly as possible. Another deadly threat to our firefighters is cancer, with rates for firefighters having significantly increased in recent years. As an important health and safety measure, we started a cancer prevention initiative for our staff in 2019.
In addition to all of these advanced capabilities, training, updates to safety practices and proactive prevention efforts we are making, I have also focused hard on our Fire Department's modernization and efficiency. One of the first adjustments made to our services as Fire Chief was to put an ambulance at our fire station No. 2 on Fountain Mesa. The ambulance at fire station No. 2 allows us to have an ambulance on each side of the railroad tracks. We continually reassess our deployment model to make sure it is what our community needs. We replaced our portable radios in 2019 because we could no longer get parts for the radios that were over 22 years old. We started using a unit-based dispatch that will send the closest most appropriate unit to an emergency based on their GPS location. We were one of the first fire departments in the United States to purchase a fire blanket to help with the extinguishment of fires in electric cars. All of these adjustments and updates ensure we reach those who need us as quickly as possible and can then deploy a standard of care and protection that our community expects and deserves.
Every aspect of our lives is being impacted by COVID-19, and your first responders are certainly not immune to these challenges. We're working hard to get our services out the door safely, both for you and for us. The city of Fountain has been on the forefront and progressive with our COVID-19 prevention and response practices. We are committed to keeping our citizens and first responders safe.
The Fountain Fire Department will be there for you if you need us!
Please feel free to contact me with fire department feedback at [email protected]
I speak for every Fountain firefighter when I say that it is an honor to serve you.
James Maxon, Fire Chief