Ellis County adopts new fire department guidelines

By Kaley Conner
Hays Daily News – April 4, 2017

The Ellis County Commission at Monday’s meeting unanimously approved updated standard operating procedures for the Ellis County Fire Department, which consists largely of volunteer firefighters.

The document is intended to help improve safety by establishing guidelines for expected behavior at training and emergency situations. The standards also will help create more uniformity in the department’s six different companies by providing common expectations, said Darin Myers, fire chief and emergency manager.

“We have six different fire companies, but how are we going to all work collectively when we all work together on one scene? The analogy we’ve used a lot is we’re going to play a game; we don’t want one company thinking we’re going to play baseball, another one thinking we’re playing golf,” he said. “The biggest thing is the safety factor it creates that all fire companies start learning to have initial response of what they’re going to do immediately. Then they have the authority to adjust that, because each scene is different and it changes and progresses.”

While the policy spells out some initial steps for assessing the situation and beginning response, the firefighters still will be trained to treat each situation differently and take the steps needed, Myers said.

The document has been in the works for several months and was badly needed, Myers said. The county’s current document was approximately 25 years old.

The document includes key safety measures, such as a standard “two in, two out” policy that always requires at least four firefighters to be on the scene of structure fires or other dangerous situations. For every two firefighters that enter a burning building, two additional personnel, plus an incident commander, must be staged outside.

The county also has created checklists that specify all of the required training and tests that must be completed before a volunteer firefighter can report for duty or operate equipment.

“I appreciate the extensive work that you’ve done on this,” Commission Chairperson Barbara Wasinger said. “One thing it just screams to me is just how much these volunteers know and how much they need to know, and how valuable they are to us as a county.”

Wasinger also asked if the commissioners could be sent a copy of the former policy so they could better understand all of the changes. Myers said he will provide the documents, and noted approximately “95 percent” of the former policy has been changed or updated.

Myers said the new document also will serve as an educational tool for new volunteers. Other area fire departments — including the city of Ellis — also are planning to adopt similar guidelines using the county’s example, Myers said.

“There’s been a lot of eyes looking at it and a lot of effort we’ve done to put it together,” he said of the operating procedures. “Unfortunately, we have had a lot of fire this year, and we’ve been able to test a lot of this out. So we’ve been able to change it a little bit through the year and kind of make it a better fit for us.”


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
KSFFA’s Fire News Blog Home Page

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