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#1 Although I do not currently work for this department, it is one of several located within a short distance of my home. The 2019 budget for the Spokane Valley Fire Department was approved and publis
Although I do not currently work for this department, it is one of several located within a short distance of my home. The 2019 budget for the Spokane Valley Fire Department was approved and published in detail online. The department has ten fire stations, plus an admin building, a shop and a training facility. The total budget is 38.5 million dollars which covers those facilities and 165 firefighters. The department boundaries cover 75 square miles and a population of about 125,000 people.
The fire prevention portion of this budget is $1,436,216. Of that cost, 1,387, 216 is allocated to covering the wages of personnel working within this field. Public education supplies and programs account for $8,000, promotional printing is $1,000 and prevention travel and mileage accounts for $14,000. The next highest chunk is prevention minor supplies which is $15,000 of the budget. Overall the fire prevention portion of the budget is 3.73% of the total budget cost. Details are not given in this report, or anywhere online about specific programs or efforts the department is taking to increase fire prevention efficacy or reduce community risk other than a mention of public education opportunities, community events and involvement in increased inspection efforts for new homes and businesses. It is worth noting that an additional $153,000 of the budget is listed separately for public education purposes.
In my opinion the budget for this department seems reasonable and the funding allocated appears to make sense. The budget works out to be about 308$ per person served in the community, much of which covers actual fire suppression (24,871,945) as well as pensions and medical insurance for past and present workers. There is not any area of the budget that stands out as a gratuitous over-expenditure or a gross misuse of funds. Additionally, this budget includes the hire and training of twelve new recruits to join the current team, increasing service in some areas and replacing retirees in others. The area this department serves is a high growth area and the number of people moving into it certainly validates an increase in operational budget. This budget includes 1.52 million dollars in capital projects to improve facilities, equipment and purchase property for an eleventh station. The addition of an eleventh station will increase response times and help to provide improved overall fire suppression and safety services to the community.
I really thought the forum this week was interesting and definitely beneficial to understanding the budget process involved for Fire Departments around the globe. In my fire department we utilize what is called the S.O.C. (Standards of Cover) that speaks to nearly everything the department does for the community and the resources available to them. This information not only shows what the department does for the community but also reinforces where those tax dollars go and why.
I did not use my fire department budget process as I wanted to read through some others out there and I found one on Eastside Fire & Rescue 2017 Budget. While reading through this document it presented itself similar to what I know as an S.O.C. but more specifically to the budget. The document hones a budget calendar and timeframes for the budget. Not only did this budget document show the process for 2017 but also showed the breakdown over the course of the last 5 calendar years to show comparisons and where money was allotted. This report has an organizational chart that shows the breakdown of each position and the number of members assigned to each area. I did not see the population or the total area the fire department serves.
Some areas identified in the document were based on salary amounts, which include overtime and leave paid, Insurance costs, pensions, office and operating costs, fuel, maintenance, utilities, education/training, and a few others. These are all big items that need to be addressed and paid for to continue to operate. There is also a budget item in there that addresses equipment replacement, which includes new apparatus (fire trucks), over a 15 year span.
The Fire Prevention side of the budget was broken down and showed the salary expenses over the past 5 years and gradually increased over the years. It was stated “Fire Prevention Division includes all fire service activity that decreases the incidence of uncontrolled fires. The Division has two (2) FTE’s and .5 of an FTE Deputy Chief who conducts inspections on new construction, review building plans for compliance in the four service area cities, and review sprinkler plans.” (Eastside Fire & Rescue 2017 Budget, p.48). I would assume there would be budget expenses that come from each section to help support one another on this particular budget plan. For instance, the education/training budget would most likely support the prevention side as prevention deal with plenty of education to the community.
Personally, I am huge on the fire prevention side of things and when done effectively is a great tool and resource to have in place to help mitigate and reduce growth of unfavorable trends. Sometimes the trends are easy to identify when reduction is evident and in other times it is difficult to say if prevention is working because it is hard to identify avoided unfavorable outcomes because of proper education and training. I think this budget could use a better breakdown for each section and where it specifically gets allotted, such as a specific amount was applied for public education, certifications, prevention training for employees, time/money spent on resources specific to inspections, etc. The reason I say this is that most departments will have to analyze budgets for budget cuts from time to time and in doing this it may make it slightly easier to identify where funds can be reduced/removed.
Clark, J. (2017) “Eastside Fire & Rescue 2017 Budget”. Accessed May 25, 2019. https://www.eastsidefire-rescue.org/DocumentCenter/View/426/Eastside-Fire--Rescue-2017-Budget-?bidId=