Mangan prophesied the demise of the Fire Department at the hands of the Board of Trustees
EDITOR: Originally ran as as Guest Commentary by Greg Mangan in February 2012. Mangan was the official Plymouth Township Fire Department spokesperson and was subsequently laid-off by Township Supervisor, Richard Reaume shortly after this article was published.
February 23, 2012 PLYMOUTH EAGLE.
BOARD DECISION COULD THREATEN RESIDENTS’ SAFETY.
Plymouth Township officials have recently stated that the Plymouth Township Fire Department will be downsized and that there must be a contraction of the department due to the end of the merger with the City of Plymouth. These changes will cause irreparable harm to the citizens of Plymouth Township, as well as those who work, visit and drive through the community.
The township is 18 square miles, with a population of approximately 28,000 that grows to more than 38,000, a 35 percent increase, during the daytime. This increase is due to the large number of industrial, research and development areas, along with multiple manufacturing facilities. Additionally, there are many other large industrial complexes, as well as multistory hotels, apartment and condominiums, mega-churches, office buildings, nursing homes, and a large sports arena complex. Plymouth Township also includes I-96/M-14 and I-275, which are some of the busiest in the State of Michigan. It is also the CSX Railroads “Crossroads of the State of Michigan,” with north/south and east/west trains passing through the area approximately every 15 minutes, day and night.
The Plymouth Community Fire Department responded to 3,633 runs, with 2,622 in Plymouth Township in 2011.
By comparison, in 1995, the first year of the fire department merger, there were a total of 2,564 runs, with 1770 in Plymouth Township.
That year there were a total of 25 employees of the fire department, as compared with 24 currently, including the Fire Chief, Inspector and administrative assistant.
The Plymouth Community Fire Department currently has a full time staff of 24, which includes one fire chief, one fire inspector, one administrative assistant and 21 fire- fighter/paramedics. There are three fire stations, staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by the firefighter/paramedics. Maximum, daily staffing is currently seven fire- fighter/paramedics per day between all three stations, with a minimum of six. Plymouth Community Fire Department has seen a reduction of eight full time personnel, three from layoffs last year, and the remaining through attrition, from a high of 32 in 2002, a 25 percent decrease. Daily maxi- mum staffing, between the three stations, has decreased from nine to seven.
The Plymouth Township Board of Trustees is proposing drastic reductions to the fire department. They have indicated that six more firefighter/ paramedics will need to be laid off to “right size” the department. This will result in a nearly 30 percent decrease in firefighter/paramedics available to respond to emergencies. Daily, maximum staffing will be further reduced from seven to five, with no more minimum staffing requirements. Daily minimum staffing could realistically be reduced to three a day, with the firefighters’ contract allowing two firefighters to be off per day. Consequently, Fire station #2 will be closed permanently due to the decrease in staffing. Station #3 would be closed on days where staffing was less than four firefighters, leaving only Station #1 to cover all emergencies in the township.
A landmark study issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) shows that the size of firefighting crews has a substantial effect on the fire service’s ability to protect lives and property in residential fires.
Performed by a broad coalition in the scientific, firefighting and public-safety communities, the study found that four-person fire- fighting crews were able to complete 22 essential firefighting and rescue tasks in a typical residential structure 30 percent faster than two-person crews and 25 percent faster than three-person crews.
The permanent closing of Fire station #2, as well as the “browning out,” of Station #3, when applicable, will result in longer response times from the Plymouth Township Fire Department. This will in turn, particularly jeopardize the residents of the Lake Pointe neighbor- hoods in Station #2 response area as well as everyone else that lives, works, visits or drives through Plymouth Township.
The Lake Pointe area of Plymouth Township is in the north east section of the community. The area consists of more than 900 residences. Lake Pointe is in Station #2 response area. The Lake Pointe area can be inaccessible from Station #1, the next closest fire station, due to the railroad tracks at Haggerty and the occasions when Hines Drive is flooded. In those instances when Hines Drive is flooded and there is also a train going through the railroad tracks, the fire department, with Station #2 being closed, will have to take an alternate route going out of the community into Livonia and Northville Township to get back into the Lake Pointe area.
Increased response times will not be limited to this particular circumstance in Lake Pointe. But ,in fact, response times will greatly increase for many other instances in the township due to the decrease in staffing levels and closing of fire stations.
The staffing and apparatus placement allow the Plymouth Township Fire Department to maintain an average response time of four and a half minutes. This is critical for many reasons.
The following are examples where studies have shown:
· Infant/pediatrics who experience oxygen deprivation begin to suffer permanent brain damage at 4 minutes (Choking, drowning, sudden cardiac arrest, etc.).
· Adult Oxygen Deprivation begins to cause brain death at 4-6 minutes. Brain death is assured at 10 minutes.
· CPR, if began within 4 minutes of cardiac arrest and followed by electric defibrillation within 10 minutes can increase chances of survivability by 40 percent.
· In cardiac arrest, with every passing minute, the chances for a victim’s survival decreases by 10 percent. Defibrillation is more successful when performed within 8 minutes of the cardiac arrest, and most successful if performed within 5 minutes.
· With trauma patients, the “Golden Hour” is the time from the point of traumatic injury to the time they receive definitive medical care. Studies have proven that getting a patient to a trauma center operating room within the first 60 minutes of injury drastically increases the chance of survival. Every minute matters for survivability, especially within the first “Golden Hour.”
· For trauma patients who are trapped in a vehicle from a motor vehicle accident or an industrial machinery accident, their extrication time is also included in the “Golden Hour.” All Plymouth Township Fire Engines carry professionally trained rescue firefighters and extrication equipment (Jaws of Life).
· In just two minutes, a structure fire can become life-threatening. In five minutes, a residence can become engulfed in flames. Time is critical in search and rescue.
In conclusion, the changes being proposed by the Plymouth Township board would cause irreparable damage to the residents, visitors, workers and those traveling through Plymouth Township.
Greg Mangan Treasurer,
Plymouth Township Firefighters