Looking back to 2015, it was a year full of change and growth for Porterville Fire Department. As development of the Public Safety Facility progressed toward completion, the department was undertaking a sig-nificant reorganization of positons, responsibilities, procedures, and policies. The department motto “Committed to Quality Service” helped guide the reorganization process as each change was planned, developed and implemented with our commitment at the forefront, and the full effort of department personnel to deliver the highest level of service to their community.
One of the greatest challenges for our management team was to develop plans for a reorganization of positions and staffing levels to provide emergency response service from the new fire station, and at the same time maintain the level of service provided from stations one and two. This effort required unconventional thinking and solutions that directly impacted several members of the management team in relation to their job assignment and work schedules. I have never been prouder of these individuals and their commitment as I watched them work through this difficult process and selflessly develop solutions to better serve our community.
While much is written on municipal fire administration and managing fire services, there is no guide book or matrix chart to follow which clearly identifies the best way to organize a fire department for maximum service delivery, organizational effectiveness, and fiscal efficiency. In the end it is a team effort, utilizing combined thoughts, ideas, training, education, and experience to develop plans and organizational structures to best serve the community. As we worked through these challenges during 2015, we felt confident in the plans that were developed and in ourselves as a team working toward a common goal. The community, the city, and the department received confirmation of the validity of these efforts in early 2016 when the Insurance Services Office (ISO) conducted its regular review on the level of fire protection service provided by Porterville Fire Department. With the new fire station in full operation, and the re-organization plan in effect providing full-strength engine-company staffing from each of three stations, the Fire Department ISO rating was improved from Class III to Class II. The immediate effect of this improved rating will be seen in the property insurance premiums paid on commercial and residential properties within the City of Porterville. Additionally, better ISO ratings help encourage community development by lowering the operational costs of business and manufacturing companies looking to locate in Porterville. Our improvement from an ISO Class III to Class II is a significant indicator of the effectiveness of our recent efforts and is even more remarkable when compared to our previous ISO review in 2011. During that review, the department just managed to maintain its ISO Class III rating, and by a mere three points avoided dropping to ISO Class IV. Between 2011 and 2015 the city had experienced growth in both population and square miles, new annexations, and new development, which, if left unchecked, would have made a reduction in fire protection and ISO classification very likely. With the unwavering support of the City Council to move forward on development of the Public Safety Facility, and a selfless commitment from fire department members, we overcame these obstacles and continue to be “Committed to Quality Service”.
I wish to express my sincere appreciation to each member of Porterville City Council, our City Manager, and each and every member of Porterville Fire Department for making 2015 a great year for our community.