Fire/EMS wraps up year, looks to next
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Feb 26, 2013, 16:50
HOPEWELL — After a year of 3,182 service calls, Fire Chief John Tunstall, is moving onto the next year and the next chapter for the fire department. Tunstall said 2012 had its share of accomplishments, but there will be more for the year ahead.
“With what we had and the challenges that were facing us, we did really well,” Tunstall said, noting the challenges the department faced were not unlike many other departments, a tight budget and lack of personnel.
Even with the challenges, Tunstall said the department was able to reach many goals that were set forth in 2012.
“For what we had to work with, I thought we did very good,” Tunstall said.
2012 was a year of professional development for the department. Outlined in the Bureau of Fire’s “Strategic Management Plan,” are performance measures for the department that include seeking higher education for fire officers and having a sufficient number of trained personnel in the department’s specialization programs, such as hazardous materials.
The department also spent 2012 focused on serving the residents of Hopewell in the best and quickest way possible. To measure this performance, Tunstall looked to the city for feedback.
“We did an analysis and determined that our customers measured us by, did we get there quickly and did we care about their problem,” Tunstall said. The department then began to look back at response times for service calls.
Tunstall is also looking at capital improvement goals. Tunstall said new EMS equipment is needed for the department as well as a new ambulance to replace the one currently on the road.
“It’s not how old it is, it’s how bad it is,” Tunstall said of the ambulance. “It’s out of service as much as it’s in service. It has a tremendous amount of problems with it. You can’t go by age. It’s run a lot. Its useful life is gone.”
For Tunstall, one big accomplishment in 2012 was the department’s involvement in the Central Virginia Urban Areas Security Initiative, CVUASI. This federal program, formed in 2008, is funded by the Department of Homeland Security with over $2 million annually.
The department has received funding from this program for the past few years. Tunstall said the program has helped due to budget constraints. The budget for the department for fiscal year 2013 is $2,797,242.
“The city was able to benefit by our involvement,” Tunstall said of CVUASI. “We were able to get some funding for some things we normally would not get.”
Through CVUASI, the department secured $3,000 for radio replacement, $43,000 in communications equipment for the mobile command center, and $10,000 to conduct survivor day events for the community as part of preparedness education.
Though Tunstall is pleased with the extra funding for the department and the accomplishments in 2012, he has not slowed down on reaching the department’s goals for 2013.
“We’re continuing forward with our strategic management plan,” Tunstall said. “We’re going to continue moving forward with that.”
For 2013, some of the department’s goals include improving response time, providing professional development courses for leadership positions and enhancing the city’s ability to run an emergency operation center.
“It’s a work in progress. It’s not something that you do one time,” Tunstall said of further implementing the strategic management plan. “And it’s continuing to work on that, redefining it and setting benchmarks for our department so that we can enhance our goal to serve the citizens.”