Monday, April 13, 2009

Status Quo of Response Time & Two In/Two Out Preserved Under Fire Protection Services Agreement with City of Monterey

CLARIFICATION: Presently, for the Two In/Two Out Rule, the CRFA ambulance cross-trained firefighter is the fourth firefighter. By contrast, in contracting with Monterey, for legal reasons, the CRFA ambulance personnel cannot act as firefighters. Therefore, the fourth firefighter would be provided by the City of Monterey or automatic mutual aid. Technically then the status quo is preserved in the instance that the CRFA ambulance was away from the Carmel Fire Station. Still, there is a exception to the Two In/Two Out Rule, as described below. (Information courtesy of City of Monterey Fire Chief Sam Mazza)

ABSTRACT: Monterey Fire Chief Sam Mazza’s answers to questions on mutual aid, response time and "two in/two out" Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation at the Special City Council Meeting on 25 March 2009 are presented. A COMMENT is made with respect to the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea contracting for Fire Protection Services with the City of Monterey.

Special City Council Meeting
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Council Chambers
East side of Monte Verde Street between Ocean and Seventh Avenues

IV. Orders of Council

B. Receive report and provide policy direction regarding contracting fire protection services to the City of Monterey.

Monterey Fire Chief Sam Mazza:
On Mutual aid:
“There are essentially two types of mutual aid...Mutual aid is generally considered voluntary and not mandatory. However, there’s a nuisance to that called automatic mutual aid which is essentially a more formalized mutual aid agreement between two entities where there’s an agreement to provide specific resources automatically without having to go through a request and approval process. That’s a very common instrument used throughout Monterey County and I know that Carmel-by-the-Sea has automatic mutual aid agreements with both Cypress Fire Protection District and Carmel Valley Fire Protection District. We’ve had some preliminary discussions with the administration of Cypress Fire Protection District and they have given us indication that they would continue to honor, although it would have to be retooled a little bit, that automatic mutual aid agreement.”

On Response Time:
“Well, the response time shouldn’t change at all. Your fire apparatus and your crew are still going to be housed at the Carmel Fire Station and supported by a much larger system throughout Monterey and Pacific Grove as well as the automatic mutual aid resources from the Cypress Fire Protection District and potentially other local entities as well, so I would certainly expect response times would not change.”

"Two In/Two Out" OSHA Regulation/interior fire fighting operations:
“...Your out engine is staffed with three personnel on a daily basis. Your fourth person would either be the operations duty chief responding from Monterey or wherever they happen to be or the second apparatus that arrived whether that comes from the Cypress Fire District or the City of Monterey.”

Currently, Carmel Fire engine with three firefighters and CRFA ambulance service with cross trained firefighters meets "Two In/Two Out" within the 2-3 minutes plus or minus response time.

Don Freeman: “If we only have the ambulance service and we still have the same complement of firefighters at our Fire Department, what will be the response time when we have Two In/Two Out on site...Will you still be able to meet the two in/two out in the 2-3 minutes plus or minus in our current response time?”

Fire Chief Sam Mazza: “Quite frankly no, because we will not have four personnel here at the Carmel Station. I think the thing to keep in mind is the second apparatus would likely arrive from either the Rio Road Station of Cypress Fire District or from the City of Monterey or perhaps from the Carmel Hill Station of Carmel Fire District.”

“One other thing to keep in mind as well is that your ambulance is not necessarily in the City of Carmel all the time either and immediately available.”

(Source: Archived Videos, Special City Council Meeting, March 25, 2009)

Contracting for Fire Protection Services with the City of Monterey would preserve the status quo of response time and "Two-In, Two-Out" OSHA Regulation; that is, currently three firefighters from the Carmel Fire Station and/or two cross-trained firefighters on the ambulance respond to calls. When the ambulance is at the Carmel Fire Station, then the "Two-In, Two-Out" OSHA Regulation is met within the 2-3 minutes response time; when the ambulance is not at the Carmel Fire Station, then the forth firefighter comes via automatic mutual aid from either the Cypress Fire Protection District or the Carmel Valley Fire Protection District. Simply put, the status quo described above will not change by contracting with the City of Monterey. Ergo, those who want to stop progress towards the finalization of a Fire Protection Services Agreement between the Cities of Carmel-by-the-Sea and Monterey because of erroneous beliefs about changes in response time should not be allowed to subvert an agreement which our Carmel Firefighters endorse. Moreover, the statement that that our Carmel Firefighters are merely people who “come and go” and an “objective” consultant is therefore required to inform Council Members and the public on all of the options is to value the opinion of a consultant over our own firefighters who have a demonstrated, long-standing commitment to the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea!

Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

IDLH: Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health atmosphere (IDLH), i.e. interior structure fire, confined space, toxic, or oxygen deficient environments, and environments with potential to become IDLH.

Two In/Two Out: Regulation requiring a team of at least two personnel to be organized before entering an IDLH atmosphere. It requires a standby team of at least two personnel outside the IDLH atmosphere to back up the entry team in the event they require rapid rescue.

Compliance Instructions.
The Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established a set of compliance instructions regarding the number of firefighters required to be present on the fire ground prior to commencing an initial interior attack on a structure fire.

This compliance notice, “Two In/Two Out”, requires a standby team of at least two personnel to back up entry of two personnel before the initial attack into an IDLH atmosphere. These personnel shall be fully equipped with appropriate protective clothing, SCBA, and any specialized rescue equipment that might be needed for the specific operation under way.

Exception: An exception to the “Two In/Two Out” Rule may be taken only for life rescue given the following criteria:
1. Information that an immediate risk to life safety exists within the interior IDLH atmosphere.
2. Realistic expectations of successfully performing a rescue.


Anonymous said...

The City of Carmel-by-the-Sea would not be in its current predicament if anytime after the retirement of Fire Chief Bill Hill a City Council had made a commitment to adequately fund and staff the Carmel Fire Department as a stand alone fire department. Time meanwhile has gone by and the best solution from the Citygate Study and elsewhere is to consolidate fire services with other entities.
Just say yes to the contract with Monterey. It's time for the council to vote to approve this contract so everyone can move forward on July 1.

Anonymous said...

I am impressed with the professionalism of the city government of Monterey. From what I know, this merger process has been in the works for sometime informally. The firefighters support it. All of these things make it good enough for me.
I would trust Monterey and PG firefighters as much as Carmel firefighters, that's what professionalism means.