The year of 2007 was another busy year for the Department both on the Emergency Service side and the Code Enforcement Bureau. The Department Responded to approximately 689 calls for Service during the year. While the amount of major structure fires decreased in 2007, for which we are all thankful, the number of Rescue / Medical Related / Hazardous Condition type calls increased. There were no Fire related Civilian Fatalities and no Fire Related Civilian Injuries reported in 2007. The Department only had one (1) job related injury that occurred at a service call (Carbon Monoxide incident) during the winter storm of February 14th. The year found very busy with Code Enforcement with the numbers, in some cases, exceeding our records in 2006. We continue to work with our surrounding Departments, not just Mutual Aid response to emergencies but sharing knowledge, equipment, training programs and transferring of information on a daily basis. This continues to be an important program as we move thru the 21st century.
The Code Enforcement Division had another busy year, nearly over taking the records of 2006. We issued 486 permits for the year, with an estimated construction costs for all permits at $6,736,369.00 and the total amount of permits fees collected at approximately $25,800.00. There were 4 new single family homes completed in 2007 along with a 6 unit Townhouse project bring the total of new Single Family Dwellings to 10 for the year again crushing that previous 20 year average of only 3 per year. This area appears to be headed for another record in 2008 with plans that being reviewed at this time. The amount of renovation / addition / repair permits increased to over 290 accounting for more than $2,800,000.00 in estimated project costs. We also have a new Hotel in progress with an expected opening date of spring 2008, and the completion of the Fage’ yogurt factory. Again, this year, showing that Johnstown is continuing to be a great place to live and work.
Although, the new construction is news worthy, the other areas of Code Enforcement remained busy as well. The Codes division has conducted over 6,125 inspections for the year; this along with the accompanying paper works continues to occupy our staff almost non-stop. The addition of 4 code officers to the program in 2006 has made this division more efficient and thorough. We continually come up with ideas to make this work more streamline and we be would lost without our Secretary. This position is a 16 hr. position but the work is fast passing the available hours, an area that we are monitoring and will have to be addressed. The Complaints we are receiving from outside the department are decreasing mostly due to very diligent ward patrols and over all cooperation from the Citizens. Our policy of voluntary compliance continues to work very well with the number of cases going to our court system dropping to 4. The Code Enforcement Division continues to be an integral part of the department with its efficiency growing, along with great cooperation from the DPW we will continue to win the battle of blight, keeping Johnstown the Best Community around.
Multiple Dwelling / Commercial Building/ School Inspections:
In 2007, the Fire Department completed 52 Multiple Dwelling inspections. These inspections are of Dwellings containing 3 or more dwelling units and are required by NYS Multiple Residence Law to be conducted at least of 3 years or sooner if necessary. In Johnstown we now have 146 known Multiple Dwelling, three conversions occurred in 2007. Depending on the size of the complex these inspections can range from 3-8 hours each including paperwork and follow-ups.
We conducted 118 Commercial / Industrial Building Site Survey Inspections, these inspections are of our existing businesses, industrial complexes, city/county buildings, health care, day care and public access properties. The inspections allow us to review floor plans, contact information, and provide Fire Safety Information to be used in the event we are called to these locations. They also provide the property owner with valuable Fire Safety and housekeeping tips to keep their businesses and employees safe. These inspections range from 1-2 hours, utilizing 2 firefighters and are usually conducted by the on-duty Staff.
The Department again conducted the School districts Annual School Inspections on both Public and Private Schools in the City. There are currently six (6) Public and one (1) Private Schools meeting the Department of Education Criteria for these inspections. These inspections are conducted at different times of the year on a rotating basis, to allow for the inspections to be completed while different / changing environments that exist throughout the school year. Inspections are based on strict guidelines set down by the Dept. of Ed.; they are not just the classroom building but also all of the buildings that make up that particular piece of property. It takes over approximately 125 man-hours a year to complete these inspections, the necessary paperwork and the report to the respective School Boards, again a service that we provide Free of Charge.
Fire Prevention and Training:
Asst. Chief Michael Heberer and Capt. Gary McCoy continue to lead this Division, conducting all of the Federal and State mandated Department Training as well as providing out reach Fire Safety Programs to our community. Both Instructors have completed their annual certifications and have attended many Seminars to stay on top of our changing profession.
The Training Divisions exceeded the required NYS Minimum Training Requirement of 150 hours per firefighter, completing over 165 hours of In-Service Training (4,125 employee hours) for 2007. Some of the Topics include OSHA required Training Topics ranging from Respiratory Protection to Blood borne Pathogens, Hazardous Materials Communications, and General Safety. Along with Annual CPR/AED/First Aid Refresher Training, Mandatory 24 hour per employee In-Service Code Enforcement Training, Live Fire Training, Safety/Survival Training, and Strategy / Tactics Training to list a few. This continued education allows us to maintain our high level of readiness, providing what I believe to be the Best Trained, Most Qualified Firefighters in the County if not the State.
The Department’s Fire Prevention program continued to provide Fire Safety Education Training programs to our community Businesses, Schools, Industries, Government Agencies and Individuals. We provide in-house tours / fire safety programs and demonstrations for students and citizens of Johnstown as well as our surrounding communities. In 2007 more than 2,000 students, teachers, and parents benefited from our in-house training demonstrations. While these programs required over 400 man-hours to complete, all were accomplished with on duty staff. We also provide an off-site program that was presented to various schools including Johnstown High, FMCC, Warren St., Glebe St., Jansen Ave., Pleasant Ave., and Broadalbin-Perth, for their respective Career/Wellness/Safety presentations. These programs serviced more than 1,500 students and staff, averaging 16 man-hours each.
Our Training Division also provided Fire Safety Training to local Businesses and Agencies such as, the Wells House, Willing Helpers Home, Pine View Commons, Johnstown Senior Citizens Center Wal-Mart Distribution Center, Benjamin Moore Paints, Power Logistics, Super 8 Motel, Catholic Family Charities, YMCA, BOCES, Frontier Communications and our DPW to list a few. These programs require approximately 2 hours per session to complete and are provide free of charge.
The Training Division is currently readying the Department for the implementation of a New OSHA requirement that will require us to purchase some equipment and provide each member with specialized training. They are also re-working our Fire Prevention Program to target our young students, teaching the Dangers of Fire and Exit Drills (Fire Drills) in the Home.
Vehicle, Building, & Alarm System Maintenance:
Fire Department staff again this year has completed many tasks around the Fire House; a few highlights include the installation of new windows in the entire 2nd floor of the Station and energy saving film to the large windows of the Radio room. The members also took on an addition to our weight room, made possible through donations from the family of Victor Nicollela and some available grant money. As with all the projects asked of the staff their work was impeccable. The dedication of this entire department never ceases to amaze me. When asked to do any type of task, they step forward without question and with the window project saved the City and taxpayers at least $30,000.00, if not more. They take pride in this Department, the City and everything they do. They are examples of the type of employees that any business would hope to have. We also have had our new overhead doors installed in an effort along with windows to make the building more energy efficient. The next step is already in progress, getting the HVAC system controlled and running properly again, most of this work is being completed by our staff.
Our Vehicle Maintenance Staff has completed the yearly service work on our vehicles, conducting hours of preventative maintenance along with most of the required repairs. We did require some specialized repair work on our Lead Engine 711 and the Ladder 761, but without our staff performing the preliminary repair work, these costs could have easily doubled. The Maintenance Crew put in approximately 565 hrs. This year doing the service and repair work, with their knowledge and expertise they have saved the City an untold amount of money. (Example: 565 hrs a @125.00 per hour $70,625.00 in labor cost savings alone).
2007 Johnstown Fire Department Fleet:
Grumman Aerial Platform
The Alarm System Maintenance Division continued the necessary upgrades, maintenance and new installations of the Municipal Alarm System. In 2007, we installed 4 new master alarm boxes and ran 1,200’ of new wire. The system consist of 125 boxes with 64 of them being master boxes located on various businesses, the remaining boxes are located throughout the City as Street Boxes. A total of 425 employee hours were spent servicing, testing, repairing and adding to the alarm system. This is an old system but it is very functional, allowing for early detection and response to the businesses with master boxes will little cost to those businesses.
The Johnstown Fire/Codes Department consists of 25 members including the Chief. The Department is made up of four platoons, each is manned (at full staff) by 6 members, and the Department operates a 4 member minimum staff. These minimums allow us to barely comply with Federal OSHA and New York State Mandated Safe Staffing Levels.
2007 has been good to the Department as far as personnel are concerned; we have had no retiree’s and no new hires. This has allowed us to catch up with the widespread changes of 2006. The additions and promotions of last year have proved to be all outstanding choices with every individual making outstanding progress with their new positions.
The year has had its share of illnesses with two members receiving on the job injuries; one has returned to work, the other is still recuperating. Another member was out on extended level for a scheduled surgery, he has made a remarkable recovery and is back to work at full strength. Even with these issues, the Department Still Can boast that it had 14 members who did not use any sick days and another 5 who only used 1. They are:
Used No Sick Days:
Used Only One (1) Sick Day:
Just more evidence of the type of employee’s that the City of Johnstown Fire Department has working for them.
The City of Johnstown Fire Department and its members provide vital and important services to its citizen’s day in and day out. Whether it’s Fire/EMS Emergencies, Maintenance work, or Code Enforcement Duties our Department is providing the highest level of service bar none. The citizens of Johnstown can rest assured that they are being served by the most qualified, highly motivated, conscientious Fire Department that I have ever seen. This group of individuals goes above and beyond with every task they take, while these members are paid for their work, it is about more than that to them. These are members of the community, serving their neighbors and yes, at times risking their lives, because of what they believe in, not what their pay is. I can only repeat my past feelings as 2007 comes to a close; I have the most dedicated, selfless, brave individuals any employer could ask for. They are, for the lack of a better term, exceptional. This makes my job as Chief not only a great job, but at the Department level an easy job. As my second year as Chief comes to a close I look not towards retirement but to the endless possibilities that lie ahead for this Department and This City. The Johnstown Fire Department will celebrating 200 years of service to the Citizens of Johnstown in 2008, from the day it was founded, till today and into the future we have and will continue to provide this outstanding service with the highest level of professionalism and readiness on all levels that the Taxpayers expect and deserve.