The Fire Department, which has 70 uniformed firefighters and officers, currently operates two ambulances providing basic life support.
An outside firm, Armstrong Ambulance, provides more advanced life support.
Citing the call volume and potential for greater revenues, Municipal Resources said the city should fully staff both ambulances — one operates only part of the time — and then move toward implementing advanced life support.
The city’s Fire and Police departments currently do their own dispatching, using uniformed personnel. The report recommends a combined dispatch center at the Police Department that would use civilian dispatchers.
“We will be looking at the numbers on that to see how that works,” Galvin said, but he noted that “you clearly get a better product when you have 100 percent dedicated dispatchers” and that the city would also benefit because police and firefighters would be freed up to perform their normal duties.
Municipal Resources recommended staffing changes that include closing one of the Fire Department’s two ladder companies, fully manning the second ambulance, and ensuring three-member crews on all firetrucks. It also proposed that the city establish the position of assistant fire chief, dedicate one of its captains as the training officer, and — should the department move to advanced life support — establish the full-time position of firefighter/emergency medical services coordinator.
It said two additional firefighter/emergency medical technicians would also be needed to meet its recommended staffing levels.
Ward 2 Alderman Richard Gately said the report shows the Fire Department is “a shambles” due to years of insufficient city support.
“The bottom line is we know we have to invest in the department. . . . It’s going to take a lot of money but we have to make the commitment,” he said.
Stukey said that a new contract for his union recently awarded by an arbitrator includes the requirement that each firetruck be staffed with three firefighters.
He said his union is pleased that the report also supports that staffing level.
He said the report overall “validated what the union has been trying to get across for years,” referring to the need for more resources.
John Laidler can be reached at email@example.com.