Saturday, January 12, 2013

New Orleans Fire Department Moves To Adopt National Standard; Why Hasn’t Kenner?


Friday, officials from the New Orleans Fire Department announced a reorganization plan that will move the NOFD towards the adoption of the national standard of 4-men-on-a-truck (http://theadvocate.com/news/neworleans/4895781-148/new-fire-strategy-addresses-changes). This standard, known as “NFPA 1710”, has long been the standard for the Jefferson Parish Fire Department and fire departments across the state and the country. Sadly, it has not been adopted in Kenner.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) adopted standard 1710 in 2001, after 10 years of research and discussion. Standard 1710 sets the minimum criteria for staffing of fire fighter crews, and the time guidelines for their response to emergencies.

According to the NFPA, “These guidelines were developed for your safety, fire fighter safety, and the safety of your property.”
The first requirement of NFPA 1710 is “Fire Fighters will respond with a minimum of 4 personnel on each apparatus”, the standard that New Orleans is moving toward with their personnel reorganization.

Kenner fire crews respond with 3 men on a truck. To reach the NFPA standards of safety, Kenner must roll out 2 3-man crews and 2 fire trucks. This places additional stress and incurs more maintenance costs for each vehicle.

Kenner could improve its fire safety rating, provide the public with better fire protection, and reduce equipment costs by moving to this national standard.

While it would create some additional personnel costs, the benefits of 4-men on a truck far outweigh the minor incremental costs. In addition, the move could be made by simply changing the schedules of the existing fire fighters and hiring an estimated 9 new firefighters.

Unfortunately, the Yenni Administration and Kenner Fire Chief John Hellmers have made no effort
to adopt this standard. Rather than taking proactive steps to protect the residents and businesses of Kenner, Mayor Yenni would rather place blame on Kenner voters refusal to double property taxes.

The fact remains that there is money available within Kenner’s current budget to adopt NFPA 1710 and provide better fire protection to Kenner. Sadly, Mayor Yenni would rather increase the compensation of his political appointees by adopting raises disguised as “auto and cell phone allowances” than provide a true service to the people of Kenner.

Now, before the next budget cycle begins, is the time for the Kenner City Council to begin taking the steps that Mayor Yenni won’t and begin to discuss and take the steps necessary to move Kenner toward adopting NFPA 1710 and providing better fire protection to Kenner and a better safety level for our Kenner fire fighters.

Unlike what Mayor Yenni contends, this standard won’t require further taxes on Kenner citizens and, frankly, don’t the citizens of Kenner and our fire fighters deserve it?

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