Last week, there was an article in the Oakland Tribune stating that the Piedmont Fire Department staffs more personnel than other “comparable” fire departments, and that this “extra” staffing was expensive. Frankly, I’m surprised this is newsworthy. Along with better schools, parks, streets, recreational facilities and Police Department, the citizens of Piedmont have always enjoyed a more “full service” Fire Department.
In general, recommended staffing levels are set forth by the National Fire Protection Agency. Even cursory research into those standards will show that the Fire Department is actually staffed appropriately for the apparatus we provide and this is how the town wants it. The fact that we perform these tasks successfully is a testament to the current department’s recruitment, training, and effectiveness, rather than a lack of need for more personnel.
The “comparable” cities the author mentioned rely heavily on mutual aid or private ambulances for comprehensive fire protection and medical transport, which significantly increases response and transport times (and thus, negatively influences incident outcomes). The citizens of Piedmont, on the other hand, decided long ago to rely upon City of Piedmont employees to quickly and professionally manage the vast majority of Piedmont emergency responses (including immediate advanced life support ambulance transport), and staffed the fire department accordingly. This staffing also allows us to respond to the many fire alarms, and extinguish the many incipient fires that don’t get any media attention, but that would become much larger, more destructive, and life threatening with fewer firefighters or longer response times. Staffing is always a delicate balance between what a community needs, and what they can afford. As public servants, we consider it a point of pride that the community we serve has always chosen to invest so progressively in their own health and safety. We hope they continue to do so.
If any member of the community has any questions regarding staffing, emergency responses, or any other aspect of the Piedmont Fire Department, we invite you to come to the firehouse and talk to the firefighters, the command staff, or the Fire Chief, all of whom are proudly at your service 24 hours a day.
President, IAFF Local 2683