The Emergency Operations Bureau administers several primary elements of the department. These elements include training, safety, anti-terrorism and disaster preparedness, dispatching, and the general coordination of the paid-on-call (POC) fire fighters. The following information outlines the basic objective of each element.
The Two Rivers Fire Department (TRFD) is not content to simply maintain its current services. It is committed to continually improving and developing services that ultimately improve the quality of life for the community. Identifying department and community needs and then formulating a plan to address and satisfy the need is a function of the training bureau. Traditional and non-traditional methods are incorporated to enhance learning and improve the department's services.
The training bureau transcends every operation of the Fire Department. Every skill and service performed is a result of preparation through training. It is essential that this training is continuous to meet the needs of every operation. Areas covered during training sessions include a wide variety related to fire, rescue, and EMS incidents. Wisconsin State certified instructors who are members of the TRFD provide the majority of training. For various technical areas of expertise, training is coordinated with external agencies. Mandates by state and federal agencies are constantly demanding increased training.
Services and skills are no longer limited to the traditional fire service. The Training Bureau researches current and future services and develops techniques for educating members. Training and education are essential to maintain and improve skills and services. They are also essential to move department operations into the future. The TRFD has advanced to provide many new services that traditionally were not considered the fire department's responsibility. New and advanced skills and ideas must continually be introduced. Training and advances in service are not limited to technical emergency operation skills such as fire suppression, emergency medicine, water rescue, and hazardous materials. They also include, but are not limited to areas such as customer service, leadership, and social diversity.
Safety is a concern that is constantly present throughout every operation of the department. Obvious, as well as hidden dangers are present at every emergent and non-emergent operation. These dangers range from the obvious threats of fire, smoke, and hazardous materials to the often hidden, but equally fatal threats of infectious disease, and critical incident stress that are confronted at many emergency incidents.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), requires all fire departments to appoint a department safety officer and has developed a national standard outlining the duties and responsibilities of the Safety Officer. NFPA 1521, the standard for Fire Department Safety Officer, covers health, safety, wellness program management duties, as well as, the responsibilities of the Safety Officer during an emergency incident. The NFPA gives the Safety Officer the authority to alter, suspend, or terminate unsafe acts or hazardous activities.
Continuing education is an essential part of the Safety Officer's role in the Two Rivers Fire Department. However, safety is the responsibility of everyone in the TRFD and its importance is demonstrated through the actions and continuing education of all department members.
A primary element of the safety effort includes a safety committee comprised of a cross section of department members. This committee meets periodically to address safety issues of the department.
The TRFD began preparing for terrorist activities long before it was recognized as a national crisis. Training activities have been ongoing for the last three years to increase the preparedness of the department to manage these types of incidents. The growing incidence of terrorism increases the need for department and community preparedness in the event of any type of disaster whether it is man made or natural. The department has been working with the City of Two Rivers Police Department, and the Manitowoc County Emergency Government Office to increase awareness and preparedness through state and federally sponsored programs.
The TRFD staffs a complement of 12 POC fire fighters. POC Fire Fighters have full time civilian jobs. They carry their protective turnout gear in their personal vehicles. POCs are dispatched by pagers and respond directly to the scene. In order to train them in conditions as similar to those they will operate in, their drill sessions are conducted with the full time fire fighters. POCs attend one, three hour training session per month. These sessions are scheduled on two separate days. One in the evening and one in the afternoon to accommodate the various shift workers. These drills are organized to cover all general areas of fire fighting.
The dispatch process and the people who provide it are critical components in the effective provision of emergency services. As technology evolves, improved methods of dispatching the most appropriate response to emergency incidents continue to become available. Communications between the TRFD and the local dispatch center are essential to promote a working relationship that will provide the best service for the City of Two Rivers. We are continually evaluating new technology as well as our technique to develop the most efficient dispatch process.