Entries Tagged 'SFFD' ↓

City of Sioux Falls using firefighters to fill potholes

I am not opposed to different city departments cross training. I have often said that cross training between two departments would be beneficial to taxpayers;

With the increased workload, Public Works has put out the call for additional assistance. One who answered that call is Sioux Falls Master Firefighter Tim Schons.

“We received notice from Public Works that they were in need of individuals to help out their crews, just man-power wise,” Schons said. He chose to sign up to lend a hand.

Besides the obvious question, ‘If a firefighter has time to fill potholes you wonder if they have enough to do?’ OR ‘Why haven’t we been using the fire department for extra street work to begin with?’

But what I found interesting is this;

The main reason for Schons’ decision to sign up was a feeling of civic duty. “We are paid of course for working, but it is volunteer,” he said. “Public Works and the rest of the entities in the city help us during emergencies — well now they are in need of help and this gives us the opportunity to kind of return the favor — the ultimate goal is to help out the citizens.”

Yes they are, if you look at the city salary data for 2023 you will see that temporary service employees for the street department make around $20 an hour which is decent pay if you are pulling 40 hours a week. Mr. Schon makes around $75K a year which equals about $36 a hour. If I were Mr. Schon I wouldn’t mention that to the other guys at coffee break.

I also wonder what the Firefighters Union thinks of this?

Maybe the city should recruit some engineers to fill potholes, I heard they are not really busy these days.

Is the City of Sioux Falls leasing ambulances that we are not using?

If you watch the testimony last night at the Sioux Falls City Council Meeting (FF: 4:20) from a division fire chief about our leases with Paramedics Logistics you get some questions answered, and have even more when it concludes.

Apparently we do get reimbursed for rides we give with the leased ambulances. Paramedics Logistics bills the client, than we bill them. So how much has that reimbursement been? $0.

Why? Because according to this division chief we have never used the leased ambulances yet for transports. So why are we leasing them? Good question.

But I have also heard through the grapevine that SFFR are in fact transporting patients, but are using OUR ambulances that we already have.

So a few questions here, if the city doesn’t have an ambulance license how can we responsibly be transferring patients when it comes to liability issues using our ambulances instead of the ones we are leasing? Also, if we are using our ambulances, how are we billing for these rides? My guess is we are not, and if we are, how does that work? Who gets the money? General fund or SFFD?

There are still many holes in this lease agreement for two stationary ambulances.

I’m not sure if the division chief was either partially lying, partially telling the truth, or just leaving out huge swaths of what is really going on? Hopefully Councilor Starr who was questioning him last night will ask for the data.

Sioux Falls Fire Chief retires after a short stint

So Mr. Goodroad works his way to the top of the pay scale and after putting in a couple of years retires;

Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Chief Brad Goodroad announced his plan to retire in February 2021 after a 27-year career.

Goodroad has been chief since 2017 and will retire on February 12.

Goodroad began his career with SFFR in 1994 and progressed to captain, battalion chief, and eventually division chief.

While I admit he has put in his 27 years and (legally) deserves his retirement, you would have thought this was brought up when he took the job? Usually when you appoint someone to be chief you can get at least 8-10 years out of them or longer. I would be curious if Brad bothered to tell the last administration he planned to only serve until he was eligible? I also wonder what cushy golden parachute job he is moving into while collecting bank from top of the pay scale retirement?

I have seen this before with city management before retirement, they lock themselves in a couple of years at the top of the scale then bail (I fixed the spelling of this word due to a grammar Nazi, thanks grammar Nazi). This is another reason I oppose the bump-back, these folks already get amazing benefits.

This is why the city needs to find a younger replacement willing to put in more than 4 years and have an attitude of building the Fire Department into a better institution. I would implore our part-time mayor to do a national search for someone who has worked with a public ambulance service and have them spearhead that program for us.

Speaking of that, many have asked me if our for-profit ambulance service has been billing rides our SFFR has been giving? We have a pilot program where we are leasing the ambulances for $1 to handle the surge. So when SFFR gives the rides are we reimbursed as taxpayers? It would be nice to hear the answer to that question, but as a guessing man, I bet we are NOT.

‘HOLY SMOKEBALLS’ This is how our Public Safety officers spend their time (and your tax dollars)

ATF investigating Sioux Falls home explosion

A source that follows crime closely in Sioux Falls told me that the home that exploded was a ‘squatter’ house and that the SFPD responded to a call there just the week before to throw out some squatters. I’m not sure if that was the case. I’m sure the ATF investigation will find a cause of the explosion.

City of Sioux Falls trying to package new public safety facility bonds with past bad decisions

So this is what the city of Sioux Falls does, they make bad decisions in the past and instead of trying to correct them, they just pile it on with more bad spending decisions.*

While the new public safety center is needed, no doubt, they are playing a game with bonds and re-financing prior bad decisions;

Also included in the potential bonding package would be about $3 million for a new fire station in southeastern Sioux Falls and between $7 and $10 million for the third phase of the River Greenway project downtown. 

The two bonds being considered for refinancing were taken out by the city in 2009 for quality of life improvements, along with the flood levy project completed in 2015. Those bonds have $11.85 million and $19.7 million remaining on them, respectively.

That’s right, besides the public safety needs we want to continue to fund the river Greenway Project expansion (that is NOT needed – and likely will continue to flood due to global warming) and let’s not forget the fancy footwork the previous mayor played with Federal Funds that would have paid off the levy bonds but instead used the money to pay for the MAC that we didn’t need and continues to lose money each year.

If I was on the council, I would have NO issue with the re-finance and funding the public safety facilities, BUT, I would nix the expansion of the river greenway and just do inexpensive bike trail upgrades, etc, and stop building Roman like structures. We need to work on flood control of the Big Sioux, not build more monuments to nothing.

*There is a rumor I heard from another local media person that the city may need more money for another failed over budget project in town. I have no idea what that would be, or the cost – but I have my guesses. I guess the cat may be let out of the bag as soon as this week. Oh, brother.

Public Safety Facility needs to be a joint effort

This is a guest post by Sioux Falls City Councilor Pat Starr. I agree with Pat that we should NOT be paying for this entire project by ourselves. Our Fire and Police chiefs should be working with the finance department on how we can save money and build partnerships. I think ALL department directors should be looking at ways to be more fiscally responsible.

Emergency preparation and response are fundamental responsibilities of government. These are always at the top of the planning list when we discuss budgets and people.

Sioux Falls has a public safety need. It’s a big one. The projection is a $30 million dollar bond issue. The problem here is, it is planned to be a $30 million bond issue with the citizens of Sioux Falls on the hook for it.

The City needs to provide an adequate training facility for its Police and Fire Departments. The need is real. Current facilities are substandard and the departments have outgrown them.

Now, this is where the discussion begins. We know the need. The Sioux Falls Police and Fire departments have put forth a plan for addressing their needs.

Keep this in mind, their needs. The vision needs to be bigger. Sioux Falls is the regional leader in business and entertainment. We need to be the leader in public safety as well.

As we review plans for bonding and facilities, we must consider the needs of our region and include them.

Sioux Falls does not have our only emergency responders. We must consider how we can build a regional facility to train local, county, state and federal safety personnel. Look around the Sioux Falls area. If there is a major emergency in our area, don’t you want highly trained responders?

There are many hard working public servants in addition to Sioux Falls Police and Fire including:

1. Minnehaha and Lincoln County Sheriffs and Deputies

2. SD Highway Patrol

3. Game Fish and Parks Officers

4. SD Department of Criminal Investigation

5. SD Penitentiary Officers

6. FBI

7. US Federal Marshal Service

8. TSA – airport security

9. Homeland Security

10. Sioux Falls ambulance

11. Regional community ambulance crews

12. Regional partner fire departments

13. Regional partner community based law enforcement

14.    Civil Air Patrol

I am sure everyone can add to the list – but the bottom line is, all levels of public safety personnel need state of the art training to protect the citizens of Sioux Falls and the region.

This is not a vanity bonding project as so many of our recent bonding projects we have been in Sioux Falls. This is public safety.

Training all levels of our emergency responders does not stop at our city limits. We must have our responders knowing how to work with their regional partners. There must be regional cooperative agreements so all responders receive the training that keeps us safe.

The funding must come from all levels of government. The citizens of Sioux Falls cannot be the sole funding source for this extremely important regional project.

There must be a search for and securing of state and federal grants.

I encourage you to become involved. This plan will happen quickly and will be decided by the end of 2019.

$30 million is asking too much for the handful of the people of Sioux Falls, with promises to let other responders use. Simple statements don’t protect us. We need all regional agencies to be fully trained for them and for us. This project is too big for just Sioux Falls to own and control.

UPDATE: Most of the Sioux Falls City Council still in denial we are subsidizing Paramedics Plus

FF: 1:32:30 – Sioux Falls City Council Meeting, 11/13/2018

Watch the discussion about the six-year contract extension for the private ambulance service.

I guess you can continue to repeat a lie hoping people will finally believe you. Certain councilors continue to say we are NOT subsidizing PP, but we are, and it costs taxpayers a lot. The SFFD and the SFPD usually are the first to show up to a medical emergency. Just a few years ago, a study from the SFFD showed that over 90% of fire calls are medical emergencies. We also are going to now have ALS trained firefighters so they can use life-saving procedures when they are the first to arrive. Which is awesome, since we have no idea when our private contractor is going to show.

Last I checked our firefighters and police were NOT volunteer, and the gas that fuels their vehicles is not FREE. By showing up first to these emergencies we are essentially subsidizing PP and getting no reimbursement. Taxpayers are swallowing that cost.

Some councilors are so against a public ambulance service they continue to peddle the lie that it would cost taxpayers more. Not sure what math they are using. Right now we get ZERO reimbursement for being the first responder, if we provided the entire ambulance service we could bill the patients or their insurance provider.

I guess I kind of understand why some councilors are against a public ambulance service, because it will take a lot of work and initial capital to get one started. But please, just admit you are against it, and STOP LYING to the public. We are subsidizing PP, and that’s a fact.

UPDATE: FF: 1:09:40 – Changing time limit of public input for 2nd readings to 5 minutes.

You know my feelings on this. I think if it is a 2nd reading and people are trying to protect their neighborhood, property or welfare as long as they are being pertinent to the topic and not repeating other testimony, they should have no time limit. This is how the Minnehaha County Commission handles it, and it works well. Brekke has proposed they change it from the very restrictive 3 minutes to 5 minutes. While I will applaud her effort in making it better, we could go further. Other councilors including Councilor Neitzert agree it was too restrictive and needs to change. I thanked Greg last night for his testimony. He pointed out the real problem with public input had more to do with the previous chair than the public itself. The former chair ran the meetings horribly, and treated citizens with extreme disrespect. I predicted when they made the changes that they were not needed because the chair and a certain other councilor who were contributing to the disruption would be gone. Council is now realizing that is exactly the case, and I am happy some of them are seeing it.

Now they need to overturn Rolfing/Erpenbach’s horrible majority vote council seat resolution.

So fire sprinklers in parking garages are useful

Call me a MORON, no really, please do. When they were planning the parking garage for Village on the River I questioned why it needed a sprinkler system, apparently they are useful;

The first arriving crew found a porta potty on fire 15 feet inside the first floor (Washington Square) garage entrance. The fire was under control by the building’s fire sprinkler system. The fire was extinguished within a couple minutes of crews being on scene. Additional fire crews checked the remaining parking area and found no fire extension. Residents were alerted by the fire alarm system and were moved to the adjacent city parking garage until the fire sprinkler and alarm systems were checked and controlled. All residents were allowed back in the building after about 15 minutes.

Of course it was a porta potty and NOT a car. Funny part is I saw those porta potties a few weeks ago when I parked in there and thought to myself, “Why is there porta potties in a parking garage?” I guess they won’t be there anymore.

I also found this part of the SFFD’s press release interesting;

Sioux Falls Fire Rescue responded with 5 fire trucks, 2 support vehicles, and 21 personnel. Sioux Falls Fire Rescue was assisted on scene by Metro Communications, Sioux Falls Police Department, and Washington Square management.

I’m sure because they thought the high rise with several million dollar condos was on fire, but it just turned out to be the shitt’r in the garage. They also left out this part on the press release;

Paramedics Plus showed up 2 hours later, didn’t see anything so drove off.

Just kidding.

UPDATE: Is Paramedics Plus looking to renew 5 year contract early?

UPDATE: Please tell me that the TenHaken administration is looking at public ambulances;

It’s unclear if Mayor Paul TenHaken’s administration intends to support REMSA’s recommendation, though T.J. Nelson, deputy chief of staff in the mayor’s office, said TenHaken and the city health department will bring a recommendation of their own next month.

“We’re still formalizing what our recommendation will be,” he said.

Paramedics Plus executives could not be reached for comment.

Ultimately, the decision about extending Paramedics Plus’ contract lies with the City Council, which has members who have been critical of service in Sioux Falls.

I have heard from within the SFFD that many of the higher ups support a public ambulance service, and have for years, but have gotten resistance from the former mayor and chief. Maybe this will create a golden opportunity for TenHaken to achieve that goal. Maybe taxpayers will actually get something back from providing the service instead of just subsidizing a private service.

Rumor has it that the Sioux Falls city council was recently informed by the Health Department that PP was looking to renew their 5 year contract early. It isn’t scheduled to expire for another 2 years(?).

I find it a little suspicious with all the talk about public ambulance service and the SFFD training in ALS (Advanced Life Support) that PP is looking to renew 2 years early.

Could they be concerned the city may change it’s service to another company or better yet public ambulances within 2 years? The city could certainly fast-track and have a public ambulance service available within two years.

It will be interesting to see what the reasoning is behind the early renewal and if the city will allow it.