Englewood Council Tackles Fire Department Staffing and Equipment Needs

In a recent Englewood City Council meeting, the primary focus was on addressing the needs of the fire department, including the hiring of additional firefighters, the replacement of aging fire trucks, and the discussion of a grant for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors for community safety. The council also examined the challenges of maintaining and upgrading fire department facilities and equipment amidst extended build times and potential contractual price escalations.

The fire department’s presentation highlighted the increase in emergency calls, the importance of continuous training, and the success in securing grants for various training programs and equipment. However, technical difficulties during the presentation underscored the challenges faced even in communicating departmental needs.

Training for the fire department has been a focus, with participation in live burn facilities, bailout training, and ladder truck training, emphasizing both the physical fitness and the mental health of firefighters. Community outreach efforts have been identified as crucial, with open houses and local event attendance being key elements of the department’s service.

Staffing levels were a central concern, with the department at 55 members against a 59-member authorization, and a goal to increase to 63 by 2025. This was underscored by a recent fire on James Street, where limited manpower posed a challenge in a densely populated building. The council proposed hiring additional firefighters to fill the gaps and ensure public safety.

The aging fire department fleet was also addressed, acknowledging the need for a modern frontline fleet. A new engine is on order, but maintenance challenges persist with older vehicles. Plans to establish a “rainy day fund” and allocate additional budget in 2025 were discussed to address the replacement program for aging apparatus.

Purchasing new fire trucks was recognized as a challenge due to the three to four-year build times. The fire department has made progress in reducing reliance on borrowed trucks and has outlined capital expenditures for turnout gear, personal protective equipment, two-way radios, and the replacement of older hybrid vehicles.

The implementation of a program called Lexipol was discussed for integrating policies and procedures in compliance with regulations. Concerns about the reliability of neighboring volunteer fire departments were raised, with suggestions to consider automatic aid systems for timely support during emergencies.

Budget discussions extended to the Department of Public Works (DPW), with the director expressing gratitude for the support received and emphasizing the need for additional training and education for staff to improve operations. Challenges such as street maintenance, especially during snow events, and the management of resources were debated.

The council discussed a variety of other topics, including the upcoming presidential election and the burden of handling Open Public Records Act (OPRA) requests. Concerns were raised about the costs and time associated with fulfilling these requests, with the possibility of outsourcing being briefly mentioned. The CFO detailed the financial impact of OPRA-related legal fees, and the council acknowledged the city clerk’s professionalism and dedication to the job.

The council also touched on the need for public education about new voting machines and processes, early voting, and the use of dropboxes for mail-in ballots. The high number of polling locations and their management was a concern, along with the need for succession planning and additional staffing to support the city clerk’s responsibilities.

Lastly, discussions on the implementation of new HR systems and training programs were had, with the city planning to use a cloud-based system for job postings and applicant tracking. Concerns about the tracking of repeat offenders and the implementation of an employee assistance program were raised. The need for police presence during construction on the Jones Road Bridge was brought to attention, highlighting the necessity of interdepartmental coordination for public safety.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Michael Wildes
City Council Officials:
Charles Cobb, Dr. Kenneth Rosenzweig, Dr. Lisa Wisotsky, Angela David, Kevin Wilson

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