Monday, April 22, 2024

Mayor John Huffman and Lieutenant Frank Molinets Talk Wildland Deployments

Each year, the brutal Texas summer takes its toll on previously manicured grass, AC units, and the water supply. Increased temperatures and little rainfall lead to drought conditions that make way for increased wildfires and grassfires each season; The Southlake Fire Department continues to provide assistance to areas in need.

As temperatures rise, so does the need for extra resources – water, gear, and helping hands, but Southlake Fire, a Northeast Fire Department Association (NEFDA) partner, is no stranger to a bond that begins with one of the golden rules – sharing is caring. This week on Minute with the Mayor, Mayor John Huffman meets with Lieutenant Frank Molinets of the Southlake Fire Department to get an in-depth look at the Wildland Deployment Program.

“Throughout the year, we participate in many deployments throughout the state of Texas, mainly wildland deployments, where we send wildland-trained firefighters out to support local jurisdictions in any time of need. For the last few years, Texas has experienced drought conditions, and these resources have been needed throughout the state on multiple occasions,” said Molinets.

The Southlake Fire Department debuted its new Tender, an apparatus that stores up to 3,000 gallons of water, on a deployment to Fort Stockton this summer. This piece of equipment assisted in extinguishing roadside flames and keeping people and animals who live there safe.

Positions on the Wildland team are highly coveted, and practice with new equipment and tactics continues long after the drought season is over. With firefighters dedicating over 100 hours each of initial training, yearly preparation with regional and state partners, and much more, the Southlake crews are ready to tackle the smoke and flames ahead.

Depending on the severity, deployments can last a few days to a few weeks, but no matter the duration, the Protect Southlake team continues to rise to the occasion.

As he listened in on what the program entailed, Mayor Huffman remarked, “It really speaks to the heart that you have and the heart that your team has, that you guys would take the time to get trained for this, but also take the time to deploy.”

To watch the full episode of Minute with the Mayor, click below.

The Southlake Fire Department Presents New Equipment During National Safety Month

Our #ProtectSouthlake Team just got a little bigger! Explore the new Fire Department Tender as it debuts right here in this exclusive Minute with the Mayor.

As part of the City’s ongoing efforts to highlight safety and security, National Safety Month is part of the bigger picture when it comes to how Southlake operates. This week on Minute with the Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem Shawn McCaskill took a field trip to Southlake DPS Station 1 to meet with Deputy Chief Jeremy Wilson about a specialty apparatus designed to kick our fire response up a notch.

In December 2022, the Fire Department received a new piece of equipment called the Tender. This apparatus is heavy-duty, complete with enough storage for 3,000 gallons of water. It is outfitted with a portable storage tank that allows the Protect Southlake Team to work without interruption.

“We really designed it to be able to dump water at a scene and respond back to another location and fill it up with water. It ensures that we have fire suppression if we lose water because of inclement weather or if we have events where we lose power and our pumps can’t run,” said Deputy Chief Wilson.

This integral feature supports the efforts of the Southlake Fire Department to provide a rapid and relentless response to fires, especially in the upcoming heat of summer months.

Firefighters have been trained at Tarrant County College during the acquisition of this apparatus to better serve the community.

Although a large investment, this worthwhile piece of the safety and security puzzle provides Southlake’s citizens with the best possible protection. “Well, from a City Council perspective, we’re ready, willing, and able — and y’all know this — to support you all with whatever equipment you need, including this new piece of equipment. And we’re happy to do that and provide that in our budget,” said McCaskill.

To watch the full episode of Minute with the Mayor, click below.

Mayor Huffman and the Fire Department Team Up for Holiday Cooking Safety Tips

Thanksgiving is right around the corner! On this episode of Minute with the Mayor, Mayor John Huffman is joined by Fire Marshal Kelly Clements to talk about safety precautions to keep your turkey day stuffed full of fun and festivities.

Traditions can come in all forms, whether that be cooking with the little ones, watching the Thanksgiving parade on television, or playing tackle football outside. “With all the hectic schedule going on, everything we have, sometimes we forget to be safe,” said Clements.

Thanksgiving is the leading day of the year for home fires involving cooking equipment, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and to mitigate this risk for your family, here are a few safety tips to follow:

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking. Do not leave your food unattended.
  • Keep flammable objects like wooden cooking utensils, packaging, towels, oven mitts, etc., away from an open flame or stovetop.
  • Keep electric cords from dangling over countertops to avoid children pulling appliances down.
  • Blow out candles and remove them from the edges of the counter.

If there is a fire, the best thing you can do is to get out immediately with family members and pets. Many civilians who are injured in home fires are often injured by trying to fight the fire themselves, according to the NFPA. Call 9-1-1 and get to a safe location so experts can help. 
In addition to his Thanksgiving wishes, Mayor Huffman also expressed his appreciation for the Fire Department and the City as a whole. “I hope this Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of family, fun, food, fellowship, and a time to reflect on all the blessings we’ve been given. We live in an incredible community,” said Mayor Huffman.

For more information about the Protect Southlake Team, please visit our website.

The Southlake Fire Department reminds residents to “Plan Your Escape” during Fire Prevention Week

The City of Southlake Fire Department is teaming up with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Fire Prevention Week, October 9-15, 2022.

This year’s campaign, “Fire won’t wait. Plan your escape”, works to educate and promote developing a home escape plan and practicing it regularly.

“The clock is ticking if there’s a fire in your home — both for us to effectively extinguish it and rescue anybody that’s inside, but for the occupants of that home to escape safely,” said Southlake Fire Chief Michael Starr. “We can’t stress enough having working smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, planning an escape route out of every bedroom and every room in your home, and having a place to meet outside that everyone knows.”

According to a survey conducted by the NFPA, only one of every three American households have actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan.

While 71% of Americans have an escape plan in case of a fire, only 47% of those have practiced it.

“Modern fires in modern homes grow very, very quickly,” Chief Starr said. “With all of the synthetic materials that are petroleum based, it is a very different fire environment than it was several decades ago. So, prevention is even more critical now than it was a several years ago.”

The NFPA lists the following objectives as key messages for this year:

  • Make sure your home escape plan meets the needs of all your family members, including those with sensory or physical disabilities.
  • Smoke alarms should be installed inside every sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area, and on every level of your home. Smoke alarms should be interconnected so when one sounds, they all sound.
  • Know at least two ways out of every room, if possible. Make sure all doors and windows open easily.
  • Have an outside meeting place a safe distance from your home where everyone should meet.
  • Practice your home fire drill at least twice a year with everyone in the household, including guests. Practice at least once during the day and at night.

The Southlake Fire Department encourages all residents to embrace the 2022 Fire Prevention Week theme.

For additional information on home escape plans and fire safety, visit www.cityofsouthlake.com/Get-Prepared.

Southlake Fire Competes in Grimpday

Three Southlake Firefighters (Lt. Frank Molinets, Engineer Van Wakefield, and Engineer J.W. Stone) and six other North Central Texas Firefighters make up the nine-member Chisholm Trail Rescue Team (CTRT). The team recently competed in Grimpday Competition in Belgium from September 7 – September 10, 2022.

Grimpday is an international challenge that brings together search and rescue teams from around the world (firefighters, civil defense, military, and police). The challenge takes place in Namur, Belgium, where teams compete against each other through exercises involving the unique elements of search and rescue in hazardous environments. This event was created in 2006 by Namur’s regional fire department members.

 

Southlake Fire Lieutenant Frank Molinets said, “This was one of the most amazing experiences that I was able to be a part of. It is the Olympics of the rope rescue world.” 

The CTRT competed in 10 events total, including the “Dalton,” which was a rescue from a rollercoaster with a 190ft ascent, and patient rescue at 100ft above the surface. They also competed in the “Highline,” which was a water rescue over a canyon at 140ft. The North Central Texas team ranked 16th out of the 24 teams that competed, with a team from Japan taking overall first in the competition.

The CTRT put themselves in the running for Grimpday by competing in the Texas Rescue Competition in late 2021. Since then, they have worked tirelessly in preparation for this event, honing their skills with over 500 training hours since January. The team also was able to fundraise over $7,000.00 for their trip.

The skills the team displayed at Grimpday directly benefit the local community. The Southlake Fire Department and Northeast Tarrant County (NEFDA) are trained and supported by the CTRT, which is now internationally recognized.

“We had the ability to see and learn from the best of the best, and it is now our responsibility to pass that knowledge on,” stated Molinets.

Demonstrating World Class Performance: A Look Inside Southlake Fire

They are the first responders to arrive on a scene. They assist with the injured, visit our schools and are a beloved staple in the community. Kids look up to them and grownups want to be them. Some would even refer to them as our first real-life heroes. They are our local firefighters.

When it comes to implementing the City’s values of integrity, accountability, innovation, excellence and teamwork, the Southlake Fire Department sets the standard.

The staff is comprised of highly-trained individuals who specialize in fire prevention services emergency response, emergency management, public outreach and education and community risk.

Since firefighters are more than likely to be the first responders who arrive on the scene, training is essential.

In 2020, our firefighters accrued 14,000 hours in fire training, 4,000 hours in EMS training and 6,000 hours in professional development.

“We are required to do a certain amount of training by regulatory agencies once you become certified in both fire and EMS,” Deputy Chief of Operations Kurt Hall said.

Not only does Southlake Fire’s commitment to serving the community speak volumes, but their commitment to excellence is displayed through accolades and award-winning achievements.

“We are internationally accredited through the commission of fire accreditation international. We’ve also been awarded a grade of one through the insurance services office, so we are an ISO Class 1,” Hall said.

Southlake Fire also received the 2020 CPSE/CFAI Accreditation based on internal performance metrics and best practice measures. They were one of 10 agencies in the world to complete this accreditation.

Apart from earning some of the highest credentials in the industry, keeping citizens safe is a top priority.

According to the 2020 Southlake Fire Department Annual Report, Southlake Fire:

  • Responded to fires in under 6.35 minutes 90% of the time, which is above industry standards.
  • Responded to 3,210 calls for service.
  • Saved $5 million in property.
  • Dispatched EMS in 45 seconds, 90% of the time.
  • Battled six structure fires in the City of Southlake.
  • Fought 21 structure fires in other jurisdictions.

Southlake Fire is also a member of the Northeast Fire Department Association (NEFDA), which allows citizens of Southlake to have access to the resources of 14 other jurisdictions.

“We are a member of that association to create and to provide specialized rescue training to the community. Most fire departments require individual teams and these 14 cities have come together to cost share. It gives us access to specialty team rescue type training like high angle rescue, confined space rescue, trench rescue, technical rescue, which is structural collapse,” said Hall. “The additional training allows the employees themselves to focus on what they enjoy. When you do something you enjoy, you always provide a higher quality, a greater focus and you do a better job.”

Our firefighters also offer training and free resources through public education and outreach programs such as CPR training, fire extinguisher training, child safety seat installations and household hazardous waste disposal through a partnership with Fort Worth Environmental.

They also offer station tours for small groups and organizations.

“I think what separates the Southlake Fire Department from any other fire department is the fact that we hire employees that truly care about what they do. They want to provide a high-quality world class service to the community, and they do it in a professional manner,” Hall said.

For more information about Southlake’s Fire Department, please visit www.CityofSouthlake.com/Fire.

 

Southlake Fire Station Tours Go Virtual

Fire station tours have been an important bond between residents and the City of Southlake Department of Public Safety. However, COVID-19 restrictions hindered how the Fire Department continued to deliver this educational service to residents. 

Calendar coordination, time constraints, social distancing guidelines and even making sure those on the tour were able to see more than just offices were all considered as the team brainstormed how to continue to bring every day public education to the community. 

“The message wasn’t going to change. We had to change the medium to continue to deliver our quality services and engage the community,” Southlake Public Information Officer Brad Uptmore said. “Throughout our planning, my goal was to engage viewers with a Disney World-like ride so that the education aspect stuck and people would continue watching to the very end.” 

The team tested a virtual tour on groups before planning a virtual tour video for social media. Filming took place on two Mondays and included more than 20 people. Editing and finalizing the video took 2-3 weeks. 

“The coordination for completion was complicated. We don’t have a dedicated film crew to put videos like this together,” Fire Prevention Officer Renni Burt said. “It was a team effort and everyone participated to make a great video that was entertaining and educational for children and adults.”  

The final product combined an interactive infomercial with Uptmore’s creative concept of an amusement park ride to create a digital version of a fire station tour that was entertaining enough to keep viewers glued to the video for seven minutes. 

They video was also recognized as one of the reasons the Southlake DPS Facebook page received the Government Social Media’s Facebook Favorite Award. 

“We’re still here and still working for the community. The work Brad and Renni have done to stay connected to our community virtually and continue to promote public education and events has been imperative to making the lives of our residents safer,” Fire Chief Mike Starr said. 

Through our Southlake values of Teamwork and Innovation, Uptmore and Burt delivered a memorable experience for the Southlake community. 

For more information about the Southlake Fire Department, visit: www.CityofSouthlake.com/Fire. 

Assessors Onsite This Week for Fire Department Accreditation

This week, four assessors from the Center for Public Safety Excellence/Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CPSE/CFAI) were onsite to review the Southlake Fire Department for re-accreditation.

The process to verify and validate the department’s ability to comply with 10 major categories occurs every five years.  The Southlake Fire Department is one of only 12 fire departments in Texas accredited through CPSE.

The department maintains its accreditation status as part of the City’s overall commitment to set world-class standards and exceed expectations.

“We hold ourselves to the highest possible performance standards with a strict application of code and regulation and employ the highest trained and accredited professionals to serve this wonderful community,” City of Southlake Fire Chief Michael Starr said. “Gaining accreditation through CPSE/CFAI is proof of our dedication to be the best and provide superior service when protecting Southlake.”

According to CPSE’s website, there are only 270 accredited agencies, including the U.S. Department of Defense. The accreditation process establishes industry-wide performance measures to determine and evaluate the level of overall organizational performance and requires an onsite peer assessment to conduct interviews, validate files and review equipment.

The City is proud to raise the standard for fire departments around the world, deliver excellence and go above and beyond in our commitment to Southlake.

Fire Department to Undergo Review for Accreditation

From January 5-9, 2020, the Southlake Fire Department will host an Accreditation Assessment Team from the Center for Public Safety Excellence/Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CPSE/CFAI). The Assessment Team is composed of four peer assessors from other fire departments throughout the country.

The accreditation process is a means of establishing industry-wide performance measures to determine and evaluate the level of overall organizational performance. As with the police services, the fire department is required to go through an onsite peer assessment once every five years to determine the department’s ongoing compliance in 10 main categories. Contained within the 9th edition FESSAM categories are 45 criterions, each of which is further broken down into 252 detailed performance indicators. The end result creates what is known as the “self-assessment manual” for fire services.

The onsite review will be conducted at Southlake’s FD Headquarters with the Fire Chiefs Conference Room serving as the primary file validation and verification location. The assessors will start arriving January 5, 2020 and depart by the afternoon of January 9, 2020.  In addition to file validation and verification, the assessors will conduct interviews and tours of our City, facilities and mutual aid locations.

The Fire Department is looking forward to hopefully receiving a recommendation of reaccreditation by the peer assessment team for its 5th five-year term.