Fire Chief provides first annual report

CARL SHANKAnnual Report

Chief Carl Shank
St Johns County Fire Rescue
St Augustine, FL

In an effort to educate and inform, I am pleased to be able to present to the citizens of St Johns County this department update.

I believe it is imperative for you to understand the mission of our agency and how we are making St Johns County a safer community.

This update will give the reader insight and highlights into the structure and operations of St. Johns County Fire Rescue.

My opening to you centers on all of the changes that have occurred within Fire Rescue over the past year.

In mid-2011, our agency experienced the retirements of six chief officers, including our department leader, Chief Robert “Bobby” Hall, who led this department as the Fire Rescue Chief since 2001. Under his leadership, public safety services were transformed into a professional department to meet the needs of one of the fastest growing counties in the nation.

All totaled, 130 years of experience retired by June 2011, leaving the department to plan and determine a new direction in a challenging economic environment. I was named Interim Fire Rescue Chief.

I quickly assembled a leadership team to stabilize our department and determine needs as we moved forward into the FY2012 budget process. We knew this was to be our first challenge.

Our ability to sustain public safety services at expected levels was going to require a millage increase to our fire district budget for FY2012.

Fire Rescue attended each Town Hall meeting during the summer with the intent of hearing from the citizens that we serve to gain insight on our services.

We were determined to work on areas to identify efficiencies and improve our fiscal and organizational challenges. We identified three key components that directly affected and improved the financial position of fire rescue services.

First, County Administration and the Board of County Commissioners implemented a needed millage adjustment and approved our FY2012 budget.

Second, our firefighters voluntarily reduced their salaries by agreeing through union contract a 5.25% reduction in pay. Both of these actions stabilized our budget and indicated a maturing of labor and management relations that recognized the economic difficulties moving forward.

The third component concerned the reorganization of fire rescue, which as a department needed to apply responsible operational cuts and modifications to our organization to improve our financial stability and create efficiencies.

As the interim fire administration, we believed that the current economic realities are encouraging a new discussion and heightened awareness in the provision of fire rescue services.

With this in mind, the department began to not only work on leadership stabilization, but also how fire rescue could reorganize for the future to be more efficient and effective in order to address current and future agency needs.

St. Johns County Fire Rescue began operating in October 2011 under a reorganized department that streamlined from five independent sections to two, identified as the Operations Section and a Support Services Section.

Functional areas that supported each section were added and positions determined to meet the mission of each area.

In December 2011, I was honored to have the support of County Administration and the Board of County Commissioners in officially being named Fire Rescue Chief for St Johns County.

The reorganization plan for the department was formally recognized in February 2012, eliminating four positions from our budget and streamlining other areas for an estimated savings of $500,000. This will help further in budget stabilization and capital planning.

You can view the new Fire Rescue Organization Chart within this annual report.

In closing, this update will give you information on calendar year 2011 call volumes and other response data. We are also highlighting the Operations Section and their many different missions.

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