Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Southlake Fire Receives 2020 CPSE/CFAI Accreditation

As part of the City’s overall commitment to set world-class standards and exceed expectations, the Southlake Fire Department is proud to announce they have been re-accredited through the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CPSE) by unanimous vote.

The Southlake Fire Department is one of only 10 agencies in the world to complete their fifth cycle of accreditation and is one of only 11 agencies in the state of Texas to be accredited through CPSE.

“It is an honor to receive this type of recognition for the high-performance standards we have set for ourselves,” City of Southlake Fire Chief Michael Starr said. “This is proof of our dedication to be the best and provide superior safety and security services as we protect Southlake.”

In January, assessors from CPSE and the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CPSE/CFAI) reviewed the Fire Department for compliance with their 10 major categories and 252 performance indicators. Accreditation occurs every five years. The accreditation is a comprehensive self-assessment and evaluation model that enables organizations to examine past, current and future service levels along with internal performance metrics for best practice measures.

The City of Southlake is proud to raise the standard for fire departments around the work with strict application of code and regulation by the highest trained and accredited professionals.

(The photo above was taken prior to social distancing guidelines.)

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.

Bells will toll in Southlake on November 11 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I: Find out how you can get involved too

November 11, 2018 will mark the Centennial anniversary of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 when the Great War ended.

To help commemorate this 100th anniversary of the signing of Armistice that ended World War I, the U. S. World War I Centennial Commission is sponsoring a nationwide Bells of Peace effort. On Sunday, November 11, 2018, at 11:00 a.m. local time across the United States bells will toll slowly 21 times in honor of all those who sacrificed in WWI. More than 200,000 Americans were wounded in WWI and 116,516 lost their lives in battle.

The World War I Centennial Commission is encouraging groups to participate in Bells of Peace. You or your group can be a part of this effort by visiting the Bells of Peace website and signing up. No bell? No worries, the Bells of Peace website offers a special downloadable smartphone app to help you participate in your own way.

In Southlake, the City will be joining the Southlake Historical Society’s efforts by tolling bells at DPS Headquarters on November 11. The Historical Society has also asked local churches to toll their bells and will place wreaths in honor of our fallen heroes at the two Southlake cemeteries serving as the final resting place for WWI veterans, White’s Chapel and Lonesome Dove.

“The 21 tolls of bell symbolize one of our nation’s highest honors,” said Fire Chief Michael Starr. “We are honored to participate in this effort joining groups across the country to commemorate the 100th anniversary of such an important piece of our history. This is a simple way for us to help pay our respects to all those who fought in World War I.”

NEW Outdoor Warning Siren Increases Warning Coverage Across Southlake

The Southlake Office of Emergency Management recently installed a new Outdoor Warning Siren (OWS) at Southlake DPS North Training Center at 100 East Dove Road to increase emergency warning coverage across Southlake. With a vital location near North Park, one of Southlake’s most frequented community parks, the newly added siren benefits both park visitors and area residents.

As explained in an NBC5 news story, Outdoor Warning Sirens in North Texas alert the public to take shelter indoors and seek additional information about the cause of the warning. In Southlake, sirens are only activated in the following conditions:

  1. A tornado warning has been issued by the National Weather Service
  2. Tornado or funnel cloud has been reported by trained SKYWARN storm spotters
  3. Sustained winds are in excess of 70 miles per hour
  4. Reports have been given of hail larger than 1.25 inches
  5. Other life-threatening conditions

Outdoor Warning Siren interior photo for MSN

The newly installed Outdoor Warning Siren at DPS North Training Center increases Southlake’s total sirens to six integral locations across the city, including Bob Jones Park, DPS West Facility, Bicentennial Park, DPS Headquarters Facility, and Public Works Facility. The City of Southlake tests all of its Outdoor Warning Sirens on the first Wednesday of each month at 1:00 p.m. If conditions are favorable for severe weather on a test day, the tests are not conducted.

“Having six sirens for coverage of the Southlake area is important, however, the real key is the educational piece. Residents and visitors need to know what to do if they hear the sirens sounding, and that is to immediately go inside and seek more information from a reputable source,” stated Amanda Meneses, the emergency management specialist at the City of Southlake.

If you have questions or concerns, contact the Southlake Office of Emergency Management at OEM@ci.southlake.tx.us or call 817-748-8903.

Burn Ban in Effect in Tarrant County starting today, July 3, 2018

UPDATE 8/24/2018 – The Tarrant County Burn Ban was lifted 8/21/2018.

Late this morning, Tarrant County Officials approved an outdoor burn ban that will be in effect for the next ninety (90) days.

What does this mean if you live in the City of Southlake?

All outdoor burning, such as burning leaves and branches and bonfires, is not allowed within the City of Southlake without a permit, but using your grill or fire pit typically isn’t a problem.  If you are unsure about using an open flame, give us a call at the Fire Marshal’s office, (817) 748-8106.

Once Tarrant County issues any kind of burn ban the City of Southlake will adhere to the burn ban regulations to maintain consistency with burn bans within the county. This means that no permits will be issued for open flames.

“Because it’s been so hot and so dry, it’s always better to be safe than sorry,” said Fire Chief Mike Starr. “We want to remind our citizens to use caution whenever they are dealing with open flames.”

He also noted that an outdoor burn ban means that experts feel conditions are ripe for an imminent threat of severe damage, injury, or loss of life or property resulting from the threat of wildfire due to the dry grass conditions and gusty winds that can occur.

A violation of the International Fire Code, related to open burning, is a class C Misdemeanor and punishable of a fine up to $2,000.00.

For information on outdoor cooking and outdoor welding guidelines, you can go to www.tarrantcounty.com and click on the Burn Ban link on the right side of the page.

For our residents in the rural areas, we strongly suggest that you make sure you keep about 30 feet of mowed area around your home and any other buildings on your property, to help prevent a fire from reaching your structures.

May 26 Day Break Camp Mania

Is your child out of school on Friday, May 26?  The City of Southlake Community Services is hosting another one day camp for children looking for fun activities on their day off!

Children can spend the entire day from 9:00AM – 4:00 PM with the City of Southlake Fire Department and learn what it takes to be one of Southlake’s finest!  Participants will need to bring a sack lunch and wear sunscreen and tennis shoes.

The cost is $35 per child. Participants must be currently enrolled in Kindergarten in a public or private school equivalent.

Spots are filling up quickly!  Register here.

For more information, contact the Southlake Parks and Recreation Office at 817-748-8019.

 

Southlake Public Safety Employees Complete DPS Leadership Academy

Over the last six months, 13 Public Safety employees have participated in our third DPS Leadership Academy. The Leadership Academy was developed as a way to bring members of both the Fire and Police departments together to strengthen their skills as leaders. Its purpose is to develop quality leadership and management, manage our organizational philosophy, culture and values, and build organizational capacity. The program included both internal and external experts who spoke on the topics of Pride and Ownership, Critical Thinking & Decision Making, Leadership & Communication Styles, Generational Differences, Employee Relations, and Southlake’s Strategy. This program was originally made possible by a very generous anonymous donation facilitated through SDCA.

On April 26, 2017 the City celebrated the graduation of the program participants listed below. At the graduation ceremony, each participant spoke about what they learned from the program and how they will use it to become a better leader. The program was very successful and we look forward to offering it again in the future.

Robert Briggs, Police Corporal
Officer Joshua Ellis, Police Officer
Officer Delaney Green, Police Officer
Cpl Preston Logan, Police Corporal
Cpl Christopher Melton, Police Corporal
Officer Thomas Roberson, Police Officer
Officer Weston Wood, Police Officer
Joshua Bors, Fire Engineer
Ricky Davis, Fire Lieutenant
Jimmy Elliott, Fire Engineer
Daniel Massengale, Fire Engineer
Robert McCallion, Fire Engineer
Brent Nobile, Fire Engineer

Congratulations to all the participants!