Changing or adding a new configuration of apparatus should be justified by a detailed analysis of the township’s needs (not wants) and how that new resource fills those needs.
The fire department should have a stated Standard of Coverage that is arrived at by determining the township’s risk factors for each of the hazards the department responds to. The risk assessment should include at a minimum, a building inventory, life safety factors, and a probability vs. consequence matrix for each of its risks.
The department’s Standard of Coverage should state the type of resources needed, where they are distributed and which resources the fire department deploys based on its risk analysis. The standard should include human resources and equipment as well as the time that those resources will arrive at incidents. Each type of incident (e.g., fire, medical, haz-mat, etc.) should have its own standard. The standard should also include resources from neighboring jurisdictions with which there are mutual aid agreements.
When expending large sums of scarce dollars, we deserve more than anecdotes for justification. Historically, the fire department has done an excellent job utilizing the type of apparatus it currently has. In my seven years living in Grand Haven Township, I haven’t seen any substantial shift in building inventory, population or any new special risks that would justify the additional expense of purchasing a Quint apparatus. But then again, I haven’t seen a risk assessment or standard of coverage provided by the fire department.
I have the greatest respect for the men and women of our fire department and am happy to support them with what they need to keep up the excellent job they are doing. I just want the township’s and fire department’s leadership to provide the public the information we deserve to make an informed decision.
Michael P. Lonergan
Grand Haven Township