Signals AZ

Acknowledging the Elephant…er Firetruck in the Room – The Chief’s Desk


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Let me begin this week by addressing the 60,000-pound fire engine in the room. Within two weeks we damaged two engines by trying to drive them out/in of the stations with doors open. Clearly, that’s not good. The “Battalion Chief Brad Davis Light”, or “Davis Light” for short, was on. For clarity, yes, Brad did damage a door on an engine, but so have several others over the years. Still, I kinda like the name. 😉

CAFMA, Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority, Chief Scott Freitag, From the Chief,

What I’ve heard from several since these incidents is that “the light comes on all the time.” As a result of the light illuminating when a door is not open, I’ve been told that folks have become complacent and simply ignore the light. I do not believe ignoring a warning light is a good idea.

As I’ve mentioned to a few, I have been in emergency services for 29 years. Over all that time I know two things to be true. One, we typically do not have as many electrical gremlins with ambulances or staff vehicles. Two, I have never met a fire engine that does not have warning light issues. Can this cause us to become complacent? Yes, it can. Should it? No.

One would think that since we spend upwards of $800,000 on an engine today and well north of $1- million on a truck company, that we would receive a state-of-the-art piece of equipment that does not have electrical problems. I mean, you do not see these types of manufacturing issues tolerated with airplanes.

To that end, I am not dismissing that problems exist with the engine related to warning lights – in this case, the Davis light. However, that does not excuse running our apparatus doors into buildings because the doors were left open. Honestly, it should be a simple safety check before you pull in/out of the building. I know B3 C-shift held a safety stand-down this week so company officers could discuss the issue with their crews. Why B3 C-shift? Ask Chief Abel… 😉

Ultimately, I need to ask a favor from all of you that operate our fire apparatus – please stop running them into our buildings – and anyone else’ building for that matter… It’s expensive to fix, time-consuming, and does impact our property and casualty rates. I believe that Chief Feddema will cover this topic in more depth at the upcoming BC meeting. A safety stand-down will be coming to a station near you very soon.

Fortunately, Engine 53 is still operable. Engine 58 is going to be out of service for a while. We have a fleet – I wonder if we should set up our own body shop???? Just thinking out loud Chief Rose. I would estimate 58 will be down more than six days, but less than six months… Maybe.

As many of you know, we lost channel 1 and, I believe, channel 5 for a bit this week. Based on the storm that rolled through, and the footage captured by the one security camera that wasn’t damaged, it appears that our Glassford Hill site was struck by lightning. The lightning cooked a flux capacitor, welded a gizmo, and caused a vortex thingamajig – or something like that. Anyway, Dave Legge was able to mud bog his way up the mess of a road and switch some sort of switch thingy to a backup doohickey that stopped the vortex and got channel one kilowattageing again. For more information on our Tech Services radio system lexicon, please shoot me an email. 😊

I thought it would take weeks to get it all operational again, but not with our tech geniuses. Nope, it was struck on August 1st and repaired on August 2nd. We have an absolutely outstanding team in Tech Services!

Given we have a large metal tower on top of a peak with nothing surrounding it, we kind of expect to get hit on occasion. It’s not quite the same as, I don’t know, leaving the door open on an engine and trying to drive it out of the bay. LOL! Captain Mongo, I know you said C-shift is trying to steal some of the B-shift charm. Just remember, no need to try and catch up. We need to keep at least a few engines in service.

As you may know by now, Station 58 was struck by lightning which cooked all kinds of stuff – $20,000 – $30,000 worth of stuff. So, to recap, in the last two weeks we’ve damaged two engines, had a comms site struck by lightning, and a station struck by lightning. I can say our insurance company is asking what is happening up here…

Our recruiting process seems to be going well as apps continue to come in via online submission. As of the close of business Thursday, we had 28 applications, but only 12 of those are complete. There are a lot of challenges with people reading and following directions. That said, it seems our new recruiting process along with our change in requirements is helping.

Captain Nick Fournier joined me on the CAFMA Connect this week to discuss recruitment for CAFMA, recruitment into our profession, as well as for a comparison between his “mustache” and Chief Parra’s mustache. Please make sure you continue to like and share our social media posts about the recruitment, and tell your friends! It takes a fire agency to raise a fire agency – or something like that.

An AD was sent out rescinding the promotional dates for Engineer Trask and Firefighter Butterfield. New promotional dates will be established later this year. They will be promoted. Butterfield may even be promoted past engineer and directly into Prevention. 😉 Congratulations Jesse!

We had a good first meeting with our new Union Chapter E-board. Some changes you will see regarding the labor/management meetings as we move forward include a posted agenda in advance of the meeting, and posted minutes once approved by all parties each month. This will allow for better and more transparent communication with all of you. Additionally, we started to establish priority items that we need to work towards in the coming months. Probably the most pressing at this point is for the Chapter to reestablish their Wage and Benefit Committee, and for our group to establish a plan as we look towards the next wage and benefit study.

The Union Wage and Benefit Committee does not supplant the larger Wage and Benefit Committee that includes both non-operations folks and operations folks. Rather, the two groups complement each other as we work with the best interest of everyone in mind.

We have a lot of work ahead of us as we look at our changing state legislature, the potential of a new funding source for us, possibility of a CON, and our ever-increasing call volume. Challenge creates opportunity and if there is one thing I know about our agency, we do not shy away from a challenge.

Cheers, and be excellent to each other!

Please do not wreck anything else…


CAFMA has now introduced The CAFMA Connect Podcast! Get to know the personnel and stay connected to your local fire service agency. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on their youtube channel at www.youtube.com/channel/UCshgJvK9iKOILA-Z3TEDvVQ.

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Read more of The Chief’s Desk in Columns on Signals A Z.com!


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