The Seminole County Fire Department has seen a great deal of change and growth since its formation in 1974. What has remained constant is its mission:
Five Minute Response Time. Trained Personnel.
Adequate Resources. Constant Prevention.
Go Home Safe.
As the chief, it is my responsibility to establish priorities designed to support the mission and, most importantly, those who carry it out. Priorities may be broadened as new ideas come forth and as an ever changing environment of new types of emergencies and needs place new demands on our service.
The fire chief’s office has nine priorities currently established to assist all areas of our operations and service delivery. This highlights what they are and a brief summary as to why they are important.
Training Advancements (established 2006)
Seminole County has invested over 3 million dollars in its training component. This includes the opening of the Seminole County Fire/EMS Training Center in 2008. This facility is over 44,000 square feet situated on nineteen acres inclusive of many training props; most recently the addition of a 5-story training tower. Training programs include fire, special hazards, and Emergency Medical Services training. It is important that firefighters have the skills to intervene in situations that call for skilled reaction. Training is the best resource a firefighter has to keep themselves safe and the public served.
Health/Wellness Initiative (established 2006)
This supports the “go home safe” part of our mission. Seminole County EMS/Fire/Rescue places great emphasis on assuring its members are physically fit for duty and that they go home safe. The Health and Wellness Initiative is designed to support this. It is an adaptation of the IAFF/IAFC Initiative that includes regular physicals, additional cardiac screening, annual fitness evaluation and annual incumbent physical ability testing. Seminole County EMS/Fire/Rescue has over 350 athletes on its winning team and is one of the most physically fit departments in the State.
Facility Improvements (established 2005)
This supports the “adequate resources” part of our mission. We provide emergency services from a total of eighteen fire stations. For many years, our fire stations were adequate. With our growing demographics and so many changes in our mission, we outgrew them. Since 2005, we have invested nearly 3 million dollars in facility improvements and major renovations to some facilities to expand the working space and meet gender needs and ADA requirements. These were not factors at the time many of our stations were constructed. In 2008, Station 13 in Forest City was relocated to a brand new facility that with land purchase and construction, cost a total of 3.1 million dollars. More stations are planned. The fast growing southeast area of the county will see Station 29 constructed within the next two years at the intersection of via Aloma and SR 426. The need for this station was planned in 2000 understanding that 417 would bring rapid growth to the area. Station 19 is planned for the central county area of Lake Emma Road and Longwood Hills, also anticipated to be constructed in the next two years. This will improve response times to the unincorporated area of Seminole County.
CAAS Accreditation (established 2006)
SCFD is a CAAS accredited agency. The Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services was established to encourage and promote quality patient care in America's medical transportation system. Based initially on the efforts of the American Ambulance Association, the independent Commission established a comprehensive series of standards for the ambulance service industry. Accreditation signifies that your service has met the "gold standard" determined by the ambulance industry to be essential in a modern emergency medical services provider. These standards often exceed those established by state or local regulation. The process includes a comprehensive self-assessment and an independent outside review of the EMS organization. This independent process provides verification to your Board of Directors, city council, medical community and others that quality care is provided to the community. The next step will be CFAII which is the standard of professional excellence for an all hazards fire department.
Finance Plan (established 2006)
This supports the “adequate resources” part of our mission. This involved a close look at needed capital improvement projects over a multi-year period. This includes apparatus, additional stations, technology and specialty equipment. All of these projects were aligned with the county’s CIP process. With the passing of Amendment 1 in 2008, these projects had to be spread out over a longer period of time in order to maintain adequate reserves. EMS/Fire/Rescue has a special taxing millage rate of 2.3299 that is applied to all unincorporated Seminole County and the Cities of Altamonte Springs and Winter Springs. Ambulance transport fees and new construction impact fees are another revenue sources. Over the last 5 years, the fire division has secured over a million dollars in grant funding to assist with cost offset for new programs.
Performance Measures (established 2007)
Our goals are only written statements if we can’t prove that we accomplish them. This is the reason for the establishment of performance measures. Each section is working to establish measurable objectives for the purpose they serve in meeting the department’s mission. Some examples are turn out times, how many schools we touch in a year for prevention and how much time is needed in the area of training. These objectives will be finalized over the current year and implemented in the following. Many require that they not only be identified but also that means be established to provide the measurement through data tracking and analysis.
Customer Service (established 2007)
Our organization has always prided itself on hallmark service. This also holds true for how we relate to each other. Over the next year, Seminole County will be launching a customer service initiative that we have no trouble embracing as we already have very high standards. In addition, we will be launching the “Seminole County Fire Department Way” that will help define what is important to us and let others see the basis of our fire department’s culture.
Career Pathing (established 2008)
With the recognition of the need to provide career guidance and succession planning, a career pathing objective is underway. This is an interest based priority between labor and management. While still in development, this will provide a map for members on how they can grow within the organization. To be fully implemented will require pay structuring commensurate with the levels of requirements for position.
Operational Consistency (established 2009)
This is no easy task in an organization of our size but imperative to safety, emergency operations and fair application of all rules. To assist in this, a Division Chief of operations assigned to 40 hours was created to give the follow through needed between shifts and sections. Organizational structure was also enhanced with the addition of an Assistant Chief of Operations. This split the previous responsibilities of administration and operations falling to one position. The three assistant chiefs (operations, administration and planning) work closely together and with the Fire Chief’s office to assure good communication. The role of all chief officers is to not only see in “shifts” but across shifts, stations and assigned personnel. A rewrite of the incident management manual is underway to provide the needed support for consistency and detail in scene operations and management.
Seminole County Fire Department’s Commissioning Creed
Honor those you work for. Respect those you work with. Serve those who work for you.
The delivery of emergency services is a unique industry requiring constant attention to an ever changing environment. To do this, it takes a team of competent leaders to assure the best service delivery and safety of our firefighters. Leadership is a responsibility of every officer in the organization. Our Commissioning Creed is an important part of our culture at every level. As the Fire Chief, it is my job to be the best resource that every firefighter has, by assuring they have what they need to provide quality service to our citizens. Seminole County Fire Department is a proud agency and has an earned reputation of respect from peer agencies and the public for its operational capabilities, compassionate service, and belief in strong accountability.