Did the Sioux Falls Fire Department attain accreditation due to (former) fire division chief Patrick Warren?

Where-s-Sideras

Fire Division Chief, Patrick Warren accepts the Accreditation with the Center for Public Safety Excellence representatives.

As you may well know, Fire Division Chief, Patrick Warren was terminated almost two years ago for misconduct while suffering from mental illness. But after two years, his accomplishments still keep popping up. In fact, the mayor went as far as claiming a couple of the Top Wins for 2015 were due to such great leadership at the SFFD;

Sioux Falls Fire Rescue was presented with ISO Class 1 designation and accreditation with the Center for Public Safety Excellence.

Patrick Warren was the accreditation manager on the department for 8 years and successfully got the department reaccredited twice – including this last time they’re counting as a win. When Pat went to the conference in Henderson, NV to accept the award, Sideras supposedly ASKED to him “Do I really need to be there?” Pat told him no, technically he wasn’t required to be there but he was the only fire chief that chose not to be there out of the dozen or so departments that were being accredited or reaccredited. So the Commissioners set up a conference call and made Sideras sit on the phone during the reaccreditation board hearing.

One of Pat’s other duties was ISO compliance. On the City’s last review, the SFFD missed getting an upgraded rating by just a couple of points. Pat knew that opening a new station would be enough to improve our rating. When Mayor Huether finally allowed construction, Pat arranged for the land purchase, made it through station design, and the week after the ground breaking Patrick was terminated. But the ball was rolling, and we were going to improve our ISO rating once the station opened.

One of the items accreditation is based on is response times and improving those response times. In 2013 and 2014, the fire department responded to 90% of its emergency calls (travel time) in 5 minutes 0 seconds and 5 minutes 3 seconds respectively. With the addition of a new station and and another crew, they should be able to at least hold steady on that number if not improve it slightly.

But in a strange twist, Chief Sideras set a goal of 5 minutes 12 seconds. In the accreditation manual it states that is the slowest time you can meet and still be accredited. But what he seems to not understand is the self-improvement process of accreditation. If the department is meeting 5m3s, and he sets a goal of 5m12s, the department will be deemed “not credible” and be required to change that goal to realistic goal. Accreditation is about setting new goals when you reach the existing ones, not setting ones you’ve already met so you can easily meet them and boast about your easy victory.

The chief did the same thing with the ISO measurement of fire loss. In 2013 there was $2.5 million in property damage/loss and in 2014 $3.1 million in property damage/loss. So what did Sideras set as a goal for 2015 and 2016?  Less than $4.4 million. That’s a pretty big increase. Once again another easy goal for another easy win.

If they’re going by ISO and accreditation, I feel like a couple of people mentioned above owe the former fire division chief a big THANK YOU on some very BIG WINS!

Other people besides Warren worked on accreditation also (Battalion Chiefs and the Data Analyst). One of the Battalion Chiefs also happened to be the only other one who knew anything about ISO and helped Warren with it, Mark Bukovich. He’s also the only one who would have known to call ISO and have them come back for the re-scoring the department after the station opened. But I guess when you’re the CHIEF/MAYOR you get to take all the credit.

Former Fire Division Chief Patrick Warren contributed to this article.



14 comments ↓

#1 Poly43 on 02.06.16 at 11:27 am

Mr Warren, I will assume since you contributed to this blog piece, you will also be monitoring responses. I have questions. In 2014, SFFR responded to 11,417 incidents. About 1% were for structure fires. About another 1% were for non structure fires. (Vehicle, grass, etc.) 55% were for medical emergencies or EMS calls. My first question. In nearly all EMS calls, SFFR and our ambulance service arrive within seconds of each other. About a 50/50 split on who arrives first. Why the duplicity?

14% of all incidents were false alarms. That number will increase considerably this year. My parents live in a independent living retirement facility. All smoke detectors are tied to a central monitoring system. Over the course of a year, over a hundred smoke incidents are covered by on duty staff. Burnt toast and cookies in the oven a little too long had staff disengaging the alarm system within a couple minutes after the source was discovered. New guidelines require full light and siren responses to all smoke detector triggers. For those reading this, imagine in your home, a full light snd siren response every time your kitchen smoke detector is triggered. If all independent retirement facilities are now under these new guidelines, the 11,417 incidents of 2014 will increase dramatically in 2016. My second question. Of those 11,417 incidents of 2014, what percentage are full light and siren incidents? Seems like a lot of wear and tear on equipment, not to mention the overall safety of fire personnel and civilians on the roads as apparatus is speeding thru red lights to answer calls.

#2 shabbier from having visited lesterville hopefully not infected with anythang on 02.06.16 at 4:38 pm

There is that ISO bs wipe that town off the map
if you will.

IAaL

#3 P Warren on 02.06.16 at 5:48 pm

Poly43 – Keeping in mind I’m not a spokesperson for the fire department, but my credentialing for the Commission for Fire Accreditation International is still up to date;

As far as both an ambulance and a fire truck responding on a medical call, it is about life safety. It happens on life threatening calls such as heart attacks, strokes, etc. Calls where time delays hurt patient survivability. On severe cases such as cardiac arrest and choking, a police car will respond as well. This tiered response is used in many cities and does have a positive outcome on patient survival rates.

When I was on the department, each service wasn’t arriving within a matter of seconds of each other. Fire was getting on scene 90% of the time in that 5-6 minute range while Rural Metro was in the 8-9 minute range. I don’t have any idea what Paramedics Plus performance numbers are.

Another reason for the duplication of service is that the fire department is a basic life support service. It is staffed with mostly EMTs. The Ambulances are staffed with at least one paramedic who can provide advanced life support (IV’s, advanced cardiac care, drugs, etc.)

I don’t know if that has changed since I left, but even though the fire department has over 20 paramedics, they aren’t allowed to use their ALS skills. THey can only operate at the BLS level and have to wait for the ambulance paramedics to arrive.

I hope that has changed with the new contract because obviously that has a negative impact on patient care. That rule was put in place my REMSA – the Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority. A political board put in place that oversees EMS care in the city and I believe the county as well.

As far as responding to fire calls, when reporting data for accreditation. Only calls are looked at where the department goes lights and sirens from the station to the address of the call. So that isn’t a very big number like you said.

The City has a system to control traffic lights so the lights turn green for the fire trucks at most major intersections. If a traffic light isn’t equipped or the light isn’t working, the fire truck driver is required to make a full stop before proceeding through a red light. If you ever see a fire truck run a red light you should report it. It’s a violation of department policy and you’re right it’s too dangerous for the couple of seconds it saves. Statistics have proven it.

When a fire alarm comes in at a retirement center, hospital, or school, all units start out lights and sirens. The life safety risk is high. But if the department get a report from an employee on scene that it’s burnt toast and nothing is on fire, only one truck continues, no lights or sirens, and the other trucks return to station.

So I think the department has good policies in place to balance risk/benefit ratio. I think that’s demonstrated by a low number of traffic accidents with fire trucks.

I used to meet annually with risk management and would have to review policies and accidents to ensure we were operating safely. Accreditation has checks in place as well.

As far as a percentage of lights and sirens (code 3) incidents, I couldn’t tell you. They don’t publish it in their annual report. The department data analyst could compile it, she can be contacted at Fire HQ. 367-8092.

#4 BBBB on 02.06.16 at 6:43 pm

Let me get this straight. A new fire station opens and the response time is not decreased or at the very least, stayed the same. But Increased? I’m going to tell my boss at my review that I’m going to increase my Service Level Agreement (SLA) time so that way I look like a Rock Star next year when my SLA time is less than my increased goal. Think he’ll buy it? Oh wait, I forgot, I don’t work for Huether or Sideras.

#5 Poly43 on 02.07.16 at 8:23 am

Thank you Mr Warren for your informative reply and your Service.

#6 Inquiring Mind on 02.07.16 at 1:42 pm

Off topic, but at the time there were several rumors around the department about why you didn’t appeal your firing through civil service given your situation. would you shed some light?

#7 P Warren on 02.07.16 at 8:46 pm

Inquiring Mind – Quite simple. The City used the carrot and the stick. I could take the plea deal, which included having my record cleared after probation but I had to give up my appeal to get my job back, or I would face potentially 10 years in prison.

Remember that next time someone leaves their mailbox open and you send a funny email that they’re buying malts. A Precedent has been set. That’s a felony and you can be prosecuted and lose your job.

Some of the original plea deal terms were vindictive and ridiculous. Sideras initially asked that I be barred from working for any fire department anywhere for life. I knew my diagnosis would probably prevent it anyway, but turns out a request like that isn’t legally enforceable, so it didn’t end up being part of the plea bargain.

When it came to sentencing, Sideras turned in a Victim Impact Statement to the judge that so misrepresented the facts of the case if I could have withdrawn my plea at that point I would have.

The City didn’t care about my diagnosis, nor did they care that I was clearly exhibiting symptoms all the way back to 2012. Even though I was never disciplined for them at the time, my actions from 2012 were brought up and used against me in 2014. My Employee Incident Report (EIR) used to terminate me is so full of contradictions it would be laughable if the circumstances weren’t so serious.

I contacted the City Council with my concerns about how my case was handled: the false information in my EIR and the victim impact statement, some additional unethical behavior I won’t discuss here at the director level, and the concern of discrimination on how non-duty disability pensions are handled. But, only silence from the council – even though witnesses were provided, I didn’t expect them just to take my word for it.

I know he would never agree to it, but what I would like to see happen is to have both Sideras and I take a polygraph test from an independent examiner and have the results published in the Argus.

Then everyone would get to hear what I would have told the Civil Service Board.

#8 Poly43 on 02.08.16 at 7:16 am

IL, I was wondering the same thing. How can a dedicated firefighter with 18 years of service, 16 of which were exemplery, lose all his retirement benefits because he had a disease? Near as I can tell from the tirades coming out of a certain office downtown, our present mayor has the same disease, yet he is still drawing a paycheck.

#9 Hosepuller on 02.09.16 at 11:27 pm

I thought Websters summed up best with this definition which reminds me of Pat’s ‘spin’ on the events…

Martyr –
a person who seeks sympathy or attention by feigning or exaggerating pain, deprivation, etc.

I hardly doubt he was fired, and plead to a felony for ‘offering free malts’ because someone left their email up…

#10 Refer on 02.10.16 at 10:10 am

Another definition of martyr, from Websters is:

a person who suffers greatly from something (such as an illness)

Bi-polar is an illness. Mental illness is serious and affects one of Sioux Falls own, a former-firefighter. How many of his “brothers” are still his “brothers” after learning this?

#11 P Warren on 02.10.16 at 7:46 pm

Hosepuller – You are right. I am seeking attention. Attention for the difference in treatment by the City of people with a physical disability versus a mental disability.

I also seek attention for the double standard in place for disciplinary action for directors versus everyone else.

I have been declared disabled. My actions deemed worthy of prosecuting by the City were determined to be part of my disorder by a forensic psychiatrist with over 40 years of experience. That doesn’t change the law however. If the City decided they wanted to criminally prosecute me they had that right.

You misunderstood my comment about the “free malts” email. As I’m sure you know, it is (was) a common practical joke on SFFR. My point was, under SDCL accessing someone else’s email without their permission is a criminal act should they themselves or the City decide to press charges. The point was the law could be used to excess as retaliation against someone who angered the wrong person.

My actions were more serious. But they still amounted to reading emails, emails which were never released, and emails which I never gained from personally or professionally. Of course you’re entitled to your own opinion, but considering the circumstances, do you think 10 felony counts and 5 misdemeanor counts leading to as much as 10 years in prison was an appropriate response?

As far as “spin”, that is why I openly challenge Sideras to both of us taking polygraph examinations.
I stand by my comments about the false information in my incident report and the victim impact statement provided to the judge. I’d share them with you but I can’t send them to someone who makes accusations behind the safety of anonymity.

At least post details of what you believe me to be “spinning”. I’ll be happy to clarify in greater detail a more accurate description. Then ask your boss Sideras and see if he’s as willing to have as open and honest discussion about it as I am.

I’ll post a list of questions if you want.

#12 P Warren on 02.10.16 at 9:39 pm

Refer – I was left with next to none. The ones I expected to be help through a difficult time were gone. People I spent between 6 – 17 years everyday with went silent.

Only a couple of retired firefighters and a couple of current ones I didn’t expect reached out to me or checked on me periodically. It was and is very much appreciated.

To be fair, in hindsight, over the last couple of years of my employment, I became more reclusive and spent less time in the stations, and less time interacting with the crews.

As my condition worsened, I also had angry outbursts which alienated several people. Not only Sideras, but other employees in meetings also. I can remember specifically one BC (now retired) two Captains, and an FAO at different meetings the outbursts were so out of the blue and uncalled for I can remember the looks of surprises on their faces. It’s embarrassing to not be in control like that but think you are right.

At one point one of them even filed a complaint against me for my unprofessional behavior. They were right to do so. Unfortunately, nothing was ever done about it. I was asked if I did anything wrong and I was allowed to clear myself. In my state of mind, I didn’t think I was wrong.

Before someone like “Hosepuller” whips out Webster’s again, or accuses me of attention-whoring, my point of sharing this isn’t to elicit sympathy or draw attention to myself. My point is regardless of the long list of puffery the City and Sideras put in the Argus Leader article last June 6, 2015, the department needs to do a lot more to focus on detecting and treating mental health issues.

Right now a pre-screen is done by a psychologist at hire. That’s it. They never see a psychologist again.

Firefighters get a physical every year that per NFPA is supposed to clear them physically and mentally, but they only see an occupational medicine physician and self-report items on a questionnaire.

Regardless what Sideras said, (per the Argus article) that it’s up to the person with the mental illness to ” share their information with providers” or “ready to admit a problem” and “can’t twist someone’s arm and make them go”. What he is saying is equivalent to it’s the responsibility of the person with a mental illness to self-diagnose and seek treatment.

Ask a psychologist about how often a person with various types of mental illness seeks treatment or recognizes they have a problem.

The firefighters also receive annual fitness wellness exams which were listed as a program to help identify mental illness. Ask a psychologist if people with degrees in exercise physiology or nutrition are qualified to recognize or diagnose mental illness?

Before I was fired, there was a problem with a captain who apparently was an alcoholic. He wasn’t doing his job. He just laid in his bunk all day and was somewhat verbally abusive to his crew. What did the crew do? They went to the union for help. The union tried to get the captain straightened out and sobered up and it was only brought to Sideras’s attention (as far as I know) after the captain had left the department.

That’s how much confidence some employees have in the department and the city to take care of a addiction/disability issue.

After the Sideras and the City fired me, prosecuted me, and denied me eligible for any sort of disability pension, how many firefighters do you think will step forward and report any concerns they have with themselves or their crew now?

Obviously there was no one thinking mental health issues on the department when I worked there. What’s changed since I left?

Has the mental health component in the NFPA firefighter physical that the contract requires been addressed that has been being missed all these years?

Has any training been done with supervisors to recognize warning signs of mental health issues? I believe NAMI offers it for free.

Have steps been taken to ensure people feel safe seeking help? An environment exists where people trust they can use the available resources and not have to hide from management to get the help they need.

Sorry Refer for highjacking question with an off-topic answer, as you can tell I don’t like “spin” and I don’t want to see what happened to me happen to someone else.

#13 A Real Hose Puller on 02.13.16 at 2:04 pm

Why am I not surprised that whichever one of the 4 or 5 Sideras kiss asses posted as ‘Hosepuller'(maybe it was Sideras himself), wouldn’t come back and answer Pat?

Many already know Sideras tried to screw over one BC and have him fired. So don’t accuse someone of ‘spin’ when you’re siding with a liar.

#14 Poly43 on 02.14.16 at 9:42 am

If we had a real newspaper in this town, I believe they’d find a very good investigation of the events surrounding Pat’s dismissal. But instead, we have what we have. Do not wonder why you are a dying breed argus.