*Editor’s note: In this week’s column, Red Oak Fire Chief Eric Thompson details an updated version of the department’s staffing plan, as well as other key areas of interest.

This plan focuses on employee retention and protecting our investments with our existing employees. Our existing staff is the key to our success, they are well trained and we can’t replace the experience. The updated plan identifies salary and benefit comparisons, creates advancement opportunities within the department without a large expansion, brings consistency, oversight, and leadership to incident management, daily operations, and supports our Fire Marshal.

The current model is not set up for future success with a rapidly growing community. We must adjust our model to stay successful. Lastly, the plan identifies the staffing strength required to open a third station on the west side of I-35.

The spring season typically is a busy time for us. As the weather turns, the outdoor activities and travel increase naturally affecting our run volume and activities. We are proud to have supported and assisted in the Red Oak Special Olympics. The Red Oak Special Olympics is one of the largest events of its kind in our region.

Additionally, our Firefighters participated in the national “Fill the Boot” campaign to support Muscular Dystrophy. Each year our crews participate in raising funds to support treatment and care for children that have been diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy.

The department also partnered with the Red Cross and sponsored a community blood drive. This was a successful event as there were over 20 people who donated blood to the Red Cross, which can save up to 60 lives.

Each year we partner with ROISD to host station tours and rides to school on the fire truck. Each Elementary campus in the district participates in the program.

The student is chosen by the campus principal and typically is a student that has excelled or overcome a great challenge throughout the year. The student and their family come for a tour of the station and gets to ride with the firefighters to school. The student is welcomed outside by all the students and staff cheering, clapping and congratulating the student being honored.

Supporting Special Olympics, raising funds for Muscular Dystrophy, partnering with the Red Cross, and our school district, are all examples of how our staff is committed to supporting our community and beyond on a large scale.

Our staff continues to strive for excellence through quality training and education.

Eric Bradley is assigned to A-Shift Station 1, and he has successfully completed his Paramedic Certification. This increases our EMS service delivery with providing advanced life support capabilities to our first responder program. Eric’s paramedic course was 10 months of extensive classroom, clinical rotations, and ride outs in an ambulance. We received great reviews from the instructors on Eric’s performance throughout the course.

Congratulations to Mr. Bradley on this huge accomplishment.

Deputy Chief/Fire Marshal Ben Blanton successfully completed the Fire Service Chief Executive Officer program. This program is offered through Texas A&M at the Mays School of Business. This is a capstone program for Fire Service executives that focuses on Finance, Planning, Human Resources and leadership.

Congratulations Chief Blanton.

Five Driver Engineers are working on achieving their Fire Officer II certification. Through our development programs, we prepare and credential our employees to promote before the promotions take place. Having this certification increases their knowledge and skills when they ride up in the absence of an officer and prepares them for future promotions. This helps facilitate seamless transitions and daily operational adjustments.

In June our new engine will be completed, and we will work to get the unit in service by early July. We will have a ceremony to place the apparatus into service.

Our new 700 MhzRadio system is installed, and currently, we are in the testing phase. The tests are going wonderful, and we are very impressed with the increase in capability and quality of the communications. We hope to be transitioned in early July.

We will continue advancing our certifications in June as we have 3 Firefighters attending a Driver Operator certification course. This is an 80-hour course offered in DeSoto.

 

It is imperative we continue our training from the Bottom to the Top of the organization. On an end note, be advised staff is preparing for an ISO regrade that will take place in July. ISO reps will be reevaluating our department, communications, and our water distribution system beginning on July 11.

 

All insurance rates will depend on the outcome of this re-grade process.