City officials will hear from a company that has done an analysis of the Ashland Fire Department at today’s noon meeting of the Ashland Board of City Commissioners.
The report, from McGrath Consulting, was commissioned in July by the board and came with an $18,000 price tag.
It was commissioned over the objections of International Association of Fire Fighters Local 706 president Keith Salmon, who said the IAFF had already started a similar study with members of the union sending data to the IAFF to analyze. That study was meant to focus on staffing.
Salmon said he expects to get the final copy of the IAFF report on the Ashland Fire Department this week, and he has already reviewed a draft of that report. He plans on presenting the results of that study to the city commission after it is finalized.
“They say very similar things as far as staffing,” he said.
The McGrath Consulting report recommends the fire department maintain minimum on-duty daily staffing of 13 and maximum staffing of 17.
The 184-page report makes 94 recommendations in areas such as emergency activities, response times, staffing, the city’s contract with firefighters, recruitment, handbook provisions, stations, equipment, budgeting, recruitment, development and promotion. The recommendations were prioritized as to when they should be implemented.
Recommendations given top priority, which officials are advised to make immediate priorities, include emphasizing a reduction in the number of false alarms, improving response and turnout times, considering an increase to the employee contribution to medical coverage, creating a replacement schedule and funding mechanism for those purchases.
Some recommendations, such as installing an elevator at Ashland’s Central Fire Station, probably won’t be acted upon while others, such as selling off excess equipment, have already been instituted, City Manager Steve Corbitt said.
The report for Ashland’s fire department is different from many done by McGrath consulting because the company primarily goes in to look at troubled fire departments as opposed to analyzing successful fire departments for efficiency, he said.
“Our report was quite complimentary of our department,” Corbitt said.
The report states “Contrary to a number of studies that the consultants have been involved, the department has strong leadership, good productivity of the members, quality facilities, apparatus, and equipment. Since the beginning of the study, a stronger relationship between the fire department and city administration has developed, thus dialogue regarding the operations of the fire department and the integration of the department within the city is moving in a positive direction.”
Though officials probably won’t agree on all the recommendations, Corbitt said city workers are looking into how many can be put into action.
“It’s gonna be an excellent tool for me,” Corbitt said.
Some recommendations are beyond the control of the city, however, such as ones recommending city officials work to see changes in Kentucky Revised Statutes that impact fire departments, he said.
Fire Chief Scott Penick said a good number of the recommendations are things the department has already started to put into action or are worth considering. There are a few to which he said he is opposed, but he declined to discuss which recommendations those were.
“There’s nothing in this report that I discount,” he said.
Penick said he is looking forward to hearing from the consulting firm during today’s meeting.
KATIE BRANDENBURG can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2653.