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City releases in-depth study of Portland Fire Department

An in-depth look at the Portland Fire Department by an outside consultant yielded more than 160 recommendations on how the agency can improve its operations.
The city on Wednesday released a more than 450-page report that details the various aspects of the PFD and identified a series of recommendations related to management structure, staffing levels and overtime, emergency medical services, airport operations, fire boat operations and most every piece of the department's operations.
"More than three decades have passed since the city conducted a review and assessment of the Fire Department and in that time the department's role and responsibilities within the community have changed dramatically. From advanced life support to emergency management, the role of the Fire Department in providing essential public safety services has changed dramatically," said City Manager Mark Rees, in a statement. "Not only does this study confirm that the city's Fire Department provides quality service to the city, but it also identifies a number of opportunities to improve how we best respond to the community's needs."
Public Safety Solutions, Inc., of Maryland, was hired by  Rees to conduct the study of PFD. The city allocated $39,000 for the study. The consultants spent about three weeks in Portland visiting the various stations, conducting interviews and researching for the final report.
Some of the recommendations include developing a policy that dictates when lights and sirens are used based on the criticality of the call; continue to maintain fire protection capability on the waterfront; determine the appropriate level of staffing to the division stationed at the airport; implement minimum training and certification requirements for officers; and consider the developing cooperative services with surrounding cities.
Fire Chief Jerome LaMoria said it's a comprehensive document and it will take time to read through it and get a familiar with all the details.
"That's just going to take a little bit of time," he said.
LaMoria said being able to digest the report and work with the staff will be an important part of the implementation process.
While the report lays out a number of recommendations, LaMoria said there are several initiatives he's already started to implement. He said he's set up a working group that will focus on the department's policies and procedures and another that will focus on public information, education and community outreach.
LaMoria said he's looking forward to getting the report out so everyone in the public can read it and provide feedback on what it says.
As the implementation process moves forward, LaMoria said it's crucial the department work with the union, the council and the community.
The City Council will hold a workshop about the study on Monday, April 1, and Leslie Adams, the president of PSSi, will present a summary of the document. The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m.
the city is also looking for public feedback on the report yo help the city manager and fire chief develop an implementation plan. Comments can be made through the city's website at www.portlandmaine.gov/fire/report.asp.

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