Wednesday, June 16, 2021

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.

Fire Department Takes Steps to Minimize Health and Wellness Risks to Firefighters

It’s the job of a firefighter to run to the direction of danger to keep you safe. But to do that, they put their own life at risk every time they run towards that danger. The Southlake Fire Department has recently taken proactive steps to minimize the overall risk placed unto firefighters due to frequent exposure to carcinogens and address the importance of the emotional health of its members.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, for many years cardiac arrest has been the number one cause of in line of duty deaths of firefighters. However, cancer-related deaths among firefighters have increased significantly over the last few decades. The Firefighter Cancer Support Network says that compared to the general population, firefighters are 68% more likely to acquire some form of cancer throughout their life.

“These findings can be contributed to the number of toxins that are encountered throughout a career, including those found at HazMat incidents, emergency medical calls, structure fires, and other life-threatening situations that may impact a firefighter’s health,” notes Deputy Chief Kurt Hall. “We took this information and took some proactive steps to put cancer reduction policies in place to ensure the health and safety of our personnel. We’ve implemented new standard operating procedures to limit exposure to cancer-causing agents.”

Fire Safety Pic 1The new policies require firefighters to connect to an exhaust port before entering the fire bays to minimize exposure to a known carcinogen, diesel fumes. In addition, firefighters are now required to go through a decontamination process on the scene of any fire. This includes the cleaning of all gear immediately after exiting the fire while taking precautions to limit unnecessary contact of contaminated equipment.

Once the gear has been decontaminated, the emergency scene is mitigated, and all fire units have cleared the scene, all personal protective gear used in firefighting activities is stored in sealed bags to prevent contact with the firefighter’s bare skin. Once back at the fire station, the used gear is thoroughly cleaned to rid the gear of harmful materials.

A second set of personal protective gear is available for all personnel to use after their front-line gear has been contaminated. Using multiple sets of personal protective gear will ensure that firefighters are not exposed to harmful carcinogens for excessive amounts of time. Reducing the threat of contaminated personal protective gear will play a major factor in the fight on cancer in the fire service.

Fire Safety Pic 2Fire Safety Pic 3

 

 

 

 

 

The Fire Department also offers pre-cancer screening blood tests that have been shown to provide early detection of breast, colon, liver and lung cancer. While this a voluntary test, it has had tremendous success during its tenure.

In addition to proactive cancer reducing measures, the Fire Department has also addressed and implemented several policies that encourage individuals to seek help for behavioral or mental health issues that could adversely affect their lives.

“The stressors that can affect emergency response personnel throughout their career can place a heavy burden on the person’s psyche,” notes Hall. “A 2017 study by the Ruderman Family Foundation found that more firefighters died from suicide than in the line of duty. Mental health is a critical area that the fire service must improve on. As a department, we recognize the importance of mental health and are committed to ensuring our personnel have access to receive treatment whenever needed.  It’s crucial for us to consider mental health when creating and implementing improvements to an organization’s health and wellness policies. We’re proud of the fact that the Southlake Fire Department has continued to be a leader in the fire service industry when providing mental health and wellness initiatives to our personnel.”

All Southlake Fire Department personnel have 24-hour access to the Employee Assistance Program, which has numerous benefits including behavioral health counseling, legal service provided by a lawyer in the area of concern, financial services provided by a financial professional, as well as access to the EAP website that offers resources, skill-building tools online assessments, and referrals for everyday needs.

In addition, the department has implemented a Critical Incident Stress Debriefing program used to ease the acute stress responses of the fire department and other emergency personnel following an event or incident that might elicit strong emotional reactions that could adversely affect one’s ability to safely perform their duties, and/or day-to-day functions.

“We all share the responsibility for identifying significant incidents that qualify for debriefing and recognizing the signs and symptoms of their peers to call for the debriefing team,” says Hall. “Being dedicated to an organization’s member’s overall health and wellness is a lofty, yet important endeavor. As a department, we’ve been steadfast in ensuring we are fit for duty, both physically and mentally, from day one of their careers until long after their retirement.”

With the implementation of these new health and wellness policies, the City of Southlake and the Southlake Fire Department will continue to be leaders in the industry and show that their commitment to their employee’s health is a significant priority.

To learn more about the Southlake Fire Department visit their website at www.cityofsouthlake.com/firedepartment.

Southlake Fire Department Creates Peer Fitness Training Team to Ensure Firefighters Ready to Serve Southlake

The Southlake Fire Department has implemented several health and wellness procedures to ensure optimal health and wellness for all members within the department to better serve Southlake.

“We’re always striving to be an innovative, progressive and forward-thinking organization and these procedures will definitely keep us on track with the City’s commitment to excellence and our goal to provide the best service possible to Southlake residents,” notes Deputy Chief Kurt Hall. “The Southlake Fire Department continues to be a leader in the fire service by ensuring our personnel are fit for duty, both mentally and physically, to serve the citizens of Southlake.”

A peer fitness training team, led by Battalion Chief Jason Wise, was created to examine the department’s existing Health and Wellness Plan and offer individualized workout programming, nutrition counseling, and other health-related recommendations to ensure Southlake firefighters are meeting the demands of the profession.

The department’s Health and Wellness Plan is very extensive and covers a myriad of things such as an infectious disease program, annual work-related injuries training, risk management training, an annual medical evaluation for all members and an optional assessment to identify any potentially life-threating blockages in the heart and lungs. The team recommended a new annual physical ability assessment that analyses each individual’s ability to perform the necessary functions of the job, and to provide in-house physical training to all employees.

“The role of firefighter/paramedic can be a very physically demanding job and ensuring that each member on our team can successfully perform their job functions to the standard of excellence that the citizens of Southlake require is a top priority for us,” notes Hall.

Firemen dragging propThe physical ability test was recently completed at DPS Headquarters in early June allowing all personnel from each shift the opportunity to complete the assessment. The test consisted of seven stations, with each station representing a task that the firefighter may encounter on a typical commercial or structure fire. The stations were completed in full structure fire personal protective equipment while wearing their SCBA (Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus) mask and breathing from their air tank.

The firefighters moved from station to station with no rest until they had completed two full rounds of the course. “The physical ability test is very challenging, but plays a vital role in evaluating each firefighter’s efficiency of movement, competency with equipment, aerobic capacity and muscular endurance while performing standard fire ground duties,” notes Hall.

Critical information related to firefighter performance was also recorded while individuals completed the physical ability test. This information included factors such as the amount of air consumed in a given period of time, average working time while performing high-intensity work inside of a structure fire and the average amount of time to complete certain objectives on a fire scene. This information can play a pivotal role in decision making for Incident Command on the scene of an emergency.

Firemen tunnel testTo provide in-house physical training, Firefighters David Hill, Nic Miles and Daniel Lyons were selected to become the peer fitness trainers for the department and attended the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Tactical Strength and Conditioning Practitioner’s course this past February in Denver, CO.

After participating in the four-day training, Hill, Miles and Lyons earned their certification as Tactical Strength and Conditions Facilitators (TSAC). The course taught the principles of program design, basics of coaching exercise technique and mechanics, and how to lead a physical readiness program for tactical athletes.

The training course taught the principles of program design, basics of coaching exercise technique and mechanics, and how to lead a physical readiness program for tactical athletes. All three members of the Southlake Fire Department successfully completed the course and certification exam, earning their certification as TSAC Facilitators.

Utilizing their prior knowledge and experience in health and fitness, along with the information taught in the TSAC Practitioners course, the peer fitness trainers will be responsible for the physical readiness of all personnel. By programming workouts specifically for individuals, trainers will be able to ensure the needs of the firefighters are being met.

The Southlake Fire Department also began using the program Train Heroic to support the trainers in their mission of physical preparedness. Train Heroic allows each trainer to monitor their athlete’s workouts, create programming that will benefit the firefighter and log results to ensure steady progress is being made.

Firemen test“Train Heroic is a very useful tool for us,” notes Hall. “Our firefighters can move from station to station and this keeps the information in one place for us. With each exercise programmed, a link is displayed that allows the firefighter to view how the exercise is to be performed and the correct points of performance for the movement. Special instructions may also be made to ensure each person is getting the most out of their workout. Allowing the peer fitness trainers to handle all physical fitness training in the department ensures all firefighters will receive fitness training that will directly improve their ability to perform the functions of their job while giving personnel the tools to decrease injury risk and increase longevity and effectiveness for the duration of their career.”

You can learn more about the Southlake Fire Department at www.cityofsouthlake.com/FireDepartment.

The City Southlake Fire Department Received 2018 Helping Heroes Grant

The Southlake Fire Department was selected by a team of safety experts based on their need for new or updated life-saving equipment and training to receive the 2018 Helping Heroes Grant.

Our Southlake Fire Department has utilized the grant for a weather station with a shareable subscription and Emergency Operators Center (EOC) equipment. Both tools will enhance the fire departments ability to prioritize safety and responsiveness in emergency situations.

“We are extremely grateful to Flint Hills Resources for this grant that will help the Office of Emergency Management and Department of Public Safety protect our community,” stated Emergency Manager Amanda Meneses. “This grant gives us the ability to integrate modern technology into our disaster preparedness plan and response efforts to assist in early detection of hazardous conditions.”

In 2018 the fire department responded to 3,373 calls for service. The fire department responded to fires in fewer than six minutes, 90% of the time, well above industry standards. Also, in 2018 they saved $1.3 million in property alone. With gifts like the Helping Heroes Grant, the fire department has the ability to further develop its emergency operations. In 2018 The Office of Emergency Management enhanced community preparedness by completing the Hazard Vulnerability Analysis for the City of Southlake. They are continuously working towards excellence in all matters regarding resident safety.

The Koch Pipeline Helping Heroes Grant provides a financial gift to be utilized for training, education, equipment and emergency notification needs of Texas fire departments and emergency responders. Flint Hills Resources has awarded more than $1,000,000 in grants to 53 first responder departments throughout Texas since 2012. Deanna Altenhoff of Flint Hills Resources stated that the purpose of the grant is simply based on the fact that, “We believe in supporting those who keep our communities safe.” The City of Southlake was awarded $3500 for FY 2019.

For more information regarding the Fire Department’s Annual Report click here.

All Superheroes Need a Great Sidekick: Roland DeGraauw Effectively Supports DPS Heroes With Accreditation Work

These days it’s almost impossible to go to movie theaters where there are no Marvel or DC superhero movies on the big screen, and if you miss the first run, you can always binge watch your favorites on Netflix.

The great heroes have their stories and their fans, but for many, success hinges on having a solid sidekick to help them out, support them, or just to keep things on track. For our Southlake police and fire heroes, one of their most important sidekicks is Roland DeGraauw, Accreditation Manager.

Southlake’s police officers and firefighters perform at the highest level of excellence, and Roland can prove it! By successfully working through the respective accreditation process for each department, Roland makes sure that they get the recognition they deserve for their outstanding work.

“Managing an accreditation process is a massive logistical undertaking for one department, much less two,” said Police Chief James Brandon. “Not only does the process have to be coordinated, but Roland has to hit a pace and keep it going. Otherwise, achieving the highest levels of professional recognition would have been impossible.”

The Fire Department is one of only eight municipalities in Texas accredited through the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI). To receive the accreditation, a department must prove its excellence in four categories: 1) Standards of Cover, 2) Strategic Business Plan, 3) Self-Assessment Manual, and the 4) Community Risk Assessment. The associated performance metrics track lifesaving skills and organizational performance. Southlake’s Fire Department has been accredited since 1999, in part because Roland manages the program and works with personnel to meet and document their distinction on 296 performance indicators.

The Police Department is accredited through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), which has established best practices for law enforcement. Departments are reviewed based on 487 standards. The PD’s most recent reaccreditation marks the 15th year of accreditation for the Department. They also recently received the Gold Standard Assessment status, the highest possible level. This reflects the high quality of the department, but can also be attributed Roland’s committed efforts.

Read more about the Fire Department’s accreditation here. An overview of the Police Department’s accreditation can be found here.

As with most capable sidekicks, Roland doesn’t seek the limelight. Instead, this humble, thoughtful, and kind man prefers to do his work behind the scenes and quietly smile when assessors complete their evaluation and compliment the departments on being some of the best police and fire operations in the nation.

Where would Batman be without Robin? Do we really think Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, could keep it all together without the help of the very capable Pepper Potts? Like our best-loved superheroes, Southlake’s Police and Fire Departments do outstanding work every day. Thanks to Roland’s effective management of the accreditation process, they have been recognized and highlighted as being among the best, and continue their ongoing work to meet the highest professional standards.

Southlake Severe Weather Awareness Week: March 18-24

Spring is here, and that can mean severe weather for the DFW region. In an effort to bring more awareness to preparing for severe weather in Southlake, Mayor Laura Hill recently proclaimed March 18 – 24 as Severe Weather Awareness Week in Southlake at the March 20 City Council Meeting.

Each year brings the potential for violent weather to Texas, and large portions of our state including the City of Southlake, can be devastated by flooding, tornadoes, hail storms, straight-line winds, and other severe emergencies; and,

Whereas, the City of Southlake, the Texas Division of Emergency Management, the National Weather Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have joined together to urge all citizens to prepare for severe weather events and to educate themselves on safety strategies; and,

Whereas, while storms can strike at any time of year, the months of March, April and May bring a greater potential for violent weather events. Planning, preparation, and day-to-day awareness can greatly reduce the loss of life and property during severe weather events; now,

Therefore, I, Mayor Laura Hill, on behalf of the City Council, do hereby proclaim March 18-24, 2018, as “Severe Weather Awareness Week” and urge everyone in our community to learn more about and to participate in severe weather preparedness activities available in the City of Southlake.

 

Red Flag Warning Issued

The Southlake Fire Department wants to remind everyone that Southlake is included in the National Weather Services’ Red Flag Warning until 6:00 p.m. this evening.

This means the potential for grass fires is greater, especially with wind gusts likely up to 25 miles per hour. A Red Flag Warning is issued when a combination of strong winds, low relative humidity, and dry vegetation can contribute to dangerous fire conditions.

Several grass fires have broken out all over the Metroplex as of Monday afternoon (1/22/2018), and just last week, the Southlake Fire Department responded to a grass fire in the 400 block of Shady Oaks Drive. The fire was accidentally started by someone using power tools to cut a pipe fence. The fire damaged several wooden fences but no structures were damaged. Fire Marshal Kelly Clements says, “Conditions are ripe for a similar situation to occur so make sure you have a good water supply nearby like a water hose if you are using power tools or welding outside. We want to encourage everyone to be aware of their surroundings during this elevated fire danger situation.”

The Fire Marshal has a few other safety tips to help reduce the fire danger threat.

  • No outdoor burning – Tarrant and Denton Counties are still under an outdoor burn ban
  • Do not toss lit cigarette butts outside
  • Avoid activities that cause sparks or flames
  • Check trailer chains
  • Don’t park cars on the grass – hot exhaust systems can ignite dry grass and start fires

If anyone sees a grass fire, you are asked to report it immediately to 9-1-1.  Your assistance will greatly assist in reducing the threat of a dangerous fire to homes and property.

If you have any additional questions, please contact the Southlake Fire Department at (817) 748-8106.