Is dual use of city departments a good idea?

I’m just throwing the idea out there, but could we use firefighters to help in tree trimming around the city? I just watched this video of the new green truck the fire department has purchased. It seems the truck is perfectly outfitted for things like simple tree trimming.

And I am not saying the FD needs to ditch their regular duties, but could the truck be used to help trim trees for the elderly or for people who don’t have the means to do it themselves?

I think it would be easy for them to go around and check trees (and fire hydrants) in their districts and not be negligent in providing safety to the residents. These trucks are fully equipped with the lastest technology to respond to a fire quickly. And if they are out in their districts they may even be able to respond quicker.

I have always felt the biggest problem with municipal employees is that they are usually not required to multi-task unless they are a grunt in the hole for public works. Remember the termination of Debra Owen? She wore many hats, and for that she was a significant asset and value to the city. Heck, they had to replace her with 3 employees and a couple of committees.

Just a thought.

 

12 comments ↓

#1 Angry Guy on 07.27.12 at 2:08 pm

Fire and Rescue shouldn’t do anything but ongoing training and respond to 911 dispatch calls.

#2 Bond Perilous on 07.27.12 at 2:28 pm

Fair enough AG. But could they at least bring a chain saw along the next time they rescue a kitten?

#3 Scott on 07.27.12 at 2:45 pm

I’m all in favor of this. Why? It seems they have a LOT of time on their hands. This past Friday, I arrived to my office after lunch to find not one but five firemen waiting for me. Uh oh, I thought. What happened when after I left?

Nothing. Apparently, it takes five of these fine people to check if my little one-man office has the required single fire extinguisher. Yep, five people to do a thirty second job. Three of them wandered off and poked their noses into areas they had no business looking into, and the entire posse had to wait to leave because two of those three expressed great interest in my dad’s Corvette posters he had piled up in a corner of a backroom.

#4 rufusx on 07.27.12 at 4:29 pm

@Scott – the three that were ready to go were probably the trainees.

#5 Craig on 07.27.12 at 4:59 pm

Scott, it is fairly common for firefighters to tour facilities so they are familiar with the layout in case of an emergency. It is part of their normal training and it could save a life one day… because GPS doesn’t work indoors just quite yet, and when there is a lot of smoke you just never know.

I’m not sure I want my firefighters spending time cutting trees. For safety reasons, they would need at least two if not three of them at a location, and if one of them was stuck up in a tree cutting down branches with a chainsaw and another one is feeding them into a chipper, do you think they are going to hear a radio call if there is a fire?

What’s next… should they come out and shovel our sidewalks too?

#6 anonymous on 07.27.12 at 6:26 pm

Clerk’s staff has 5 FTE’s, same as they did when DO was there.

#7 Detroit Lewis on 07.28.12 at 12:06 am

Oh, the classic FTE. Doesn’t matter. Debra was a dynamo. Period. It’s not like she worked more, she worked harder, and smarter. There were times I was having convos with her, and I thought to myself, “She is wayyyyyy more valuable then this.” Seriously.

#8 hose puller on 07.28.12 at 7:26 am

thats dumb. Fire crews travel together because they have a large rescue vehice with equipment. They dont drive neons around seperately then drive to the station to get the truck. They bring the crew and truck together so when the call comes they have the crew and truck together. Knowlege is power and speculation breeds idiocy.

#9 Poly43 on 07.28.12 at 9:06 am

This is the closest category I could find to voice a concern of mine. I know it’s wandering away from the topic, but it still involves a city department. For years I have been concerned about a particular practice of the city public works department. That practice has been the stockpiling of snow from the streets to a location just south of the public works building, right along the Big Sioux River. Tons and tons of snow each year are piled along the banks of the river there. I wonder each time I see it how can chemicals that keep our streets from freezing be stockpiled within feet of the river without some environmental impact? I figured someday, the area downstream of this dumping location would turn into a aquatic deadzone with the current city practice. Then I read this.

http://www.argusleader.com/article/20120728/NEWS/307280028/Fish-wash-up-dead-by-hundreds-along-Big-Sioux

I really do not know if there is a relationship or not. Seems ironic that all these dead fish are washing up just downstream of where this chemically laced snow is dumped. Hope they explore this possibility.

http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/translating-uncle-sam/stories/de-icing-dilemma-do-streets-need-salt

#10 matt70 on 07.28.12 at 11:32 am

As a former volunteer fireman I see a few problems with this idea. First, fire service chain saws don’t have normal cutting chains on them. The chains are not meant for cutting trees, in fact, those chains are terrible at cutting live trees. They are expensive demolition chains meant to cut through houses and structures. If they switched chains and were out cutting someone’s trees and had a fire call they would have to switch the chain back to the demo chain. Time consuming. Second, isn’t that the job of private business? If I owned a tree trimming service I would be mad as hell that the city is horning in on my customer base. Just because someone is elderly doesn’t mean they can’t afford to have a tree trimmed. Finally, to Scott’s point about having 4 or 5 fireman show up to do a inspection. I believe fire crews travel as a 4 or 5 man team. When they go out inspecting they can’t really leave 2 or 3 members of the crew back at the fire station. If they had a call they would have to drive back and pick them up. If I have a fire at my home, or my elderly father has a heart attack, I want the full complement of firemen in a timely manner with the proper equipment.

#11 John on 07.28.12 at 11:35 am

L3wis, spot on. They, like many full timers in “emergency services” spend 90% or more of their time not providing the emergency service. After they train, maintain, etc., they often have time for other civic and civil duties so long as they can drop those at a moments notice. Consider the SD NG medevac unit . . . they also fight fires, deliver sand bags, etc. Those of us who worked emergency services know the deal. 1. Get too specialized, too narrowly focused and you may soon make yourself or agency obsolete. 2. Focus, focus, focus on the primary mission but be flexible to tackle other missions in manners supporting accomplishing tasks of the primary mission. (I.e., every Marine is a rifleman, yet most have other occupational specialties.)

#12 Detroit Lewis on 07.28.12 at 2:10 pm

“If I owned a tree trimming service I would be mad as hell that the city is horning in on my customer base.”

They are the problem. The city used to trim the trees in the BLVD, but I’m sure the tree trimming companies saw a way to make a buck, so the ordinance changed. In Brookings, SD it is ILLEGAL to trim the trees in the BLVD, the city takes care of it. As for chain saws, I’m sure they can afford to buy a couple for trees. Geez.

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