Entries Tagged 'SFFD' ↓

Add another Million to the Events Center cost


Image: KDLT-TV Screenshot

Boy, this new 125 foot ladder truck will come in handy when they need to start sandblasting the rust from the EC siding. Ironically, it kind of looks like what the truck was purchased for;

Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Mark Bukovich said “the event center, a great facility, but one of the issues that we have with that facility is the setback, where we can park the fire trucks, in order to reach the roof. This ladder truck will give us a great advantage of getting to the roof, if we ever need to.”

At a cost of nearly one million dollars, the 125 foot tall ladder is a big investment for Sioux Falls, which should last a long time.

Oh, there is probably so much water behind the siding that you don’t have to worry to much about the EC catching on fire.

Does mold burn?

I heard rumblings about this truck about a month ago and the main reason it had to be purchased was because of the EC. It is no coincidence that the EC is 122 feet tall and the ladder is 125 feet.

I’ve told people if you think the $180 million + investment in the EC is the end of the bills coming in, you are crazy. The operating subsidies and maintenance each year will be a drain on the taxpayers for years. The economic impact of the facility will never equal the subsidies.

Should SF Firefighters get ‘Hazardous Duty Pay’ for their entire shift?


The graphic from this year’s budget proposal shows that of the fire department’s total $26.2 million dollar operating budget request, that $22.7 million of that is for wages and benefits, or approximately 86.4% of the total budget. Only 13.6% or $3.5 million goes toward buying or repairing equipment, paying for fuel or repair on trucks, or paying for utilities or minor repairs on the 11 fire stations. Some larger repairs could be in the capital budget.

If finance used a pie chart or bar graph it would look bad and be more obvious how much of the budget the wages are.

They managed to cut what they are requesting to buy in supplies, equipment, and repairs, so even though the employees are getting a 3% wage increase, the “other” operating request is down by $200,000, so the department’s overall request for 2016 is only up by 1.95%

I know it’s tough to point this out because whenever you pick on firefighters there is always public outcry about what they do and how much they risk their lives, but someone needs to start asking them about their call volume:

• It’s about 70% medical (EMS). Paramedics make a lot less money per year – ask any working for Paramedics Plus

• You wonder how many fires they respond to in a year, I think it averages around 300+. How many of those required hooking up a hydrant? (this means there was a large enough fire the
firefighters had to mask up and actually work as firefighters in smoke). It takes the waste paper basket fires and prank dog poop fires out of the statistics.

• You wonder how long the crews are out of the stations each day on calls? The crews work 24 hour shifts but probably average 3 calls per day. If you take false alarms into account, the average is probably under 20 minutes. So if you look at all the factors, the actual time spent is probably about 1 hour in 24 responding to fires (hazards). No doubt, I’m sure other work is being done – business inspections, yardwork, station cleaning, tours, etc., but is that the kind of work that requires “hazardous duty” pay?

Maybe some questions the city council should be asking during the budget hearings.

Is Sioux Falls Fire Department management investing in Lake Front property together?


An example of one of the lots on Higbee Cut, Lake Andes, SD on Lake Francis Case (not one of the lots owned by the firefighters).

Through public records (both the city of Sioux Falls and Charles Mix County) I have found that the Fire Chief for Sioux Falls, a Captain, a Division Chief, a Battalion Chief and a former Battalion Chief (5 total) have invested in approximately 25+ total lots in the Higbee Cut area near Lake Andes, SD in Charles Mix county. They all own their OWN set of lots, and NOT together as a group, according to county records.

Not sure what I think about public employees, that work for the same municipality, investing together. At least they had the common sense to NOT invest in Sioux Falls or Minnehaha or Lincoln county and to buy the lots individually instead as an investment group. Private employees, who work together, often invest together in land or other investments. Many people have made great friends through their employment, and often spend time together outside of work recreating. Some times that means investing in that recreation together as a group, outside of work.

Three of the supervisors under the fire chief have received promotions since 2010, the 4th is no longer with the Fire Department.

I totally understand the ‘brotherhood’ firefighters have with each other, and I encourage the camaraderie and involvement in each other’s private lives, especially people who are in charge of saving lives and property for the public, they HAVE to work as a tight knit team!

What do you think?

Personally, I don’t get involved to much with my fellow employee’s lives. Whether that is investing money, dating or other private matters. One of the main reasons is when problems arise in such arrangements, you have to work with these people, and it can cause issues at work (especially when it comes to love and money :)

Does the city need to step up their game in recognizing mental illness in their employees?

After reading Patrick Warren’s story in the Argus this weekend, I got the feeling that the city is making excuses or in denial about how they treat their employees with mental illness. It seems if someone’s behavior is interrupting city business, instead of trying to determine what is going on, they fire the person.

Patrick contacted me several months ago about his story, and after talking to him for over 2 1/2 hours, I decided to pass his story on to John Hult, I felt John would do a better job of telling the story. And I am impressed.

There are some things missing from the story, that eventually I would love to delve into, a lot of it stems from some of the actions of the current police chief and his relationship with the union president for the firefighters.

Patricks’s story about recognizing mental illness in employees is just the tip of the iceberg of what is going on behind the scenes at the Fire Department.

Double Standard w/Ambulance service?

As we all may or may not know, ambulance service for the city of Sioux Falls is provided by Paramedics Plus (including non-emergency transfers) and county service is provided by Med-Star. Which is fine, because having two companies providing service in the area is good for a back up plan in case of a major natural disaster, or other instances.

I was told on Friday (still checking to verify information)  that if Med-Star (the county provider) can’t provide immediate service in their service area, Paramedics Plus can assist.

But what is confusing is why can’t Med-Star be allowed to assist Paramedics Plus in the city limits if they need assistance? Or can they?

Apparently either the Pony Express or Shopping News carriers are delivering code enforcement notices


Mayor Huether seems to be confused tonight at the council meeting about how to stack a pile of firewood

Minnehaha County treasurer Pam Nelson showed up tonight to explain to the city how to mail out proper notice in the mail for a code violation (you know, using a postman and a stamp and not a newspaper bag). Pam got a notice about her firewood stack, but instead of sending a letter to her office or ACTUAL home, they put a letter in a plastic newspaper bag and hung it to her secondary residence. Seems efficient.


Then Bob Kolbe showed up asking how private emergency for-profit services can be cheaper then city owned services. Well, Bob, have you seen the Fire Department salaries (DOC: 2015-Wages-January, Start on page 4)

What about ‘Mental’ evaluations?

While the city does physical evaluations of our firefighters, you wonder if there is any ‘mental’ evaluations? (Item #1)


I have been told “Fitness assessments” listed are part of the firefighter’s labor agreement where they are required to annually participate in a non-punitive assessment of their fitness. It includes tests like body fat measuring, BMI, push-ups, and cardiovascular fitness, etc. This was in place before the annual incumbent physical agility test (IPAT) was being used, so it seems unneeded (the IPAT annually shows the employee’s ability to perform essential job tasks) except it mentions behavioral health and then mental health on the program link, which IPAT doesn’t cover.

An overview of the program can be found here:


There’s only been one scientific study done nationally (by Chicago Fire) and their results showed that the suicide rates for firefighters are 5x the national average.

Still a mystery why former SF Firefighter was hacking emails?

So was anyone at this sentencing or have access to a transcript?

A former Sioux Falls city fire official won’t serve jail time for unlawfully accessing the fire chief’s email account.

A judge on Monday sentenced Patrick Warren to three years of supervised probation and 100 hours of community service.

He pleaded guilty in December to unlawful use of a computer and in exchange, prosecutors dropped 14 other counts against the former division chief.

Warren looked at Fire Chief Jim Sideras’ email account and saw confidential messages between Sideras and Sioux Falls Police Chief Doug Barthel.

Still curious why he was doing this and if he acted alone. Seems shady.

Interesting ‘Plea Deal’ concerning SFFD

When I first blogged about this there was no real information about ‘WHY’ he was hacking the computers.

And it seems with this ‘Plea Deal’ we may never know why. Does it have to do with the Unions? Does it have to do with performance evaluations? Was Mr. Warren working alone? It will be interesting to read the transcripts and why 14 of the 15 charges were dropped in the plea deal.

Curiosity Killed the Cat?

I find this story very intriguing;

A former Sioux Falls firefighter is facing serious felony charges.

47-year-old Patrick Warren, who was a division fire chief, has been indicted on 15 counts of hacking into the department’s computer system.  At this time, authorities aren’t sure what his intent was, but we do know Warren is no longer working for the department.

I have NO CLUE why he would want to look at the files, but I highly doubt it had to do with just curiosity. There is a bigger reason. Why would a Division Chief making $104K a year awaiting a great pension risk his job by doing this if he wasn’t ‘suspicious’ about something. Or could he have been doing someone elses dirty work.

I noticed in an early article he resigned in May or August(?). Funny how this just surfaced a few days ago.

It will be fun to watch this unfold, I especially want to know what the picture of ‘sucking up’ was.