The top program accomplishments for the Houston Fire Department for fiscal years 2018 through 2019 involved policy and program improvements in six distinct categories; Health and Safety, Fleet and Equipment, Homeland Security/Disaster Response, Deployment Protocols, Professional Development and Facilities. Due tremendous support from the Mayor’s office and budget approvals from Houston City Council, State and Federal Grants, as well donations through the Fire Fighter Foundation of Houston and other donors, we have made significant progress in providing Houston firefighters with the tools and equipment necessary to safely perform their job and care for the community we serve.
In the last three years the Houston Fire Department has invested in 18 new trucks at an approximately cost of $500,000 each and five aerial (ladder) trucks at an approximately $1 million each.
In the last two years 30% of EMS units, totaling 30 units, have been replaced or upgraded at a cost of $160,000 each. Total cost: approximately $4.8 million.
The four-year fleet replacement plan calls for an expenditure of $30 million, replacing 12% of the fleet per year. The average vehicle life expectancy ranges from 7 to 10 years.
Accomplishments: Engine/Aerial Units
- 18 Replacement Spartan Engine trucks were equipped with independent front suspension, supplemental restraint systems, backup cameras, Anti-lock brakes, automatic traction control, hearing protection/communication systems for all occupants in the cab.
- 2 Replacement Spartan 105’ Aerial trucks were equipped with independent front suspension, supplemental restraint system, backup cameras, anti-lock brakes, automatic traction control, hearing protection/communication systems for all occupants in the cab
- 1- Quint truck, 2- Aerial trucks, 1- Tower trucks anticipated delivery in calendar year 2019.
- 24 replacement ambulances placed in service in 2019 YTD. These are the first HFD vehicles compliant with the nationally recognized CAAS Ground Vehicle Standard for Ambulances, representing the latest safety standards.
- 5 additional replacement ambulances have been funded and scheduled for procurement in FY 2020.
- 4 Ambulance Remounts completed in 2019.
Support and Specialty Units, added in 2018 and 2019 and deployed in Imelda response
- 9- High Water Evacuation Vehicles
- 10- 4x4 Crew Cab F250 Emergency/Rescue Support Units
- 10- Double Stacked Evacuation Boats and trailers
- 3- Rescue Boats designed for swift water operations
- 1- Inmar Rescue Boat designed for search and rescue operations
- 6- wave-runners
- 7- Crew Cab F250 Incident Command Vehicles used by District Chief command officers.
- 3 drones placed into service for aerial surveillance.
Strategic Needs: - NFPA Annual Engine Pump Tests program
- Replacement of 23 Engine fire trucks older than 10yrs of service
- Replacement of 11 Aerial ladder trucks older than 10yrs of service
- Replacement of 28 Ambulance Units older than 8yrs of service
- Replacement of 13 Light Duty Supervisor Units
Accomplishments: Firefighting Equipment
- Ballistic Vests:The HFD has purchased and deployed ballistic vests and first aid kits for each staffed position in Emergency Operations. The equipment is intended to be deployed when responding to violent incidents such as active-shooter, civil unrest and other volatile responses.
- SCBA Deployment:Deployed next-generation Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus units to the Emergency Operations division. This equipment, purchased through the FEMA AFG grant and City of Houston funding, significantly improves respiratory protection levels for firefighters working in hazardous environments.
- Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) Pack:RIT Pack III issued to all District Chiefs’ cars provides equipment standardization across the department. Standardization of RIT Packs is crucial to safe and efficient emergency deployment.
- Exit Locators:With assistance from City Funds from Councilmember Knox’s office, the HFD embarked on a department-wide Exit Locator Unit upgrade. This equipment will be assigned to each District Chief and Safety Officer truck. The equipment is designed to provide a visual and auditory signal of egress location for firefighters who may become disoriented inside a structure.
- Small Equipment Funding:To ensure rapid response to fire house needs, Mayor Turner approved a budgetary line item to repair and replace fire station appliances, small engine and lawn equipment and other light-duty firefighting equipment.
- Thermal Imaging Cameras:In progress for wholesale replacement of 105 department thermal imaging devices to assist in search and rescue.
Radios Upgraded in 2018 and 2019
- Department-wide Motorola APX 6000 Radio
- Department-wide Motorola XE RSM Lapel Microphones
- Department-wide SCOTT Epic 2 RDI – Bluetooth Microphone
Houston Fire Department
Accomplishments: Cancer Prevention Initiatives:
To limit firefighter exposure from vehicle exhaust in the stations, an aggressive effort to retrofit each fire station with the Plymovent Vehicle Exhaust Removal system was implemented this year. Installation has been completed in 15 fire stations at a cost of approximately $70,000 per station. As part of a $2.7 million Assistance to Firefighters Grant awarded for facility upgrades and training, a $1.5 million grant allocation and $235,000 City grant match approved by Council will be used for the installation of the Plymovent System in an additional 30 fire stations in FY20.
To limit exposure from contaminated Personal Protection Equipment worn by our firefighters, the HFD has embarked on an aggressive initiative to install advanced cleaning commercial Extractors in each of the city’s 94 fire stations and Arson Division. HFD purchased 56 extractors through both private funding and council district service funding (CDSF) from Council Member Stardig’s and Council Member Travis’ office. HFD has received the first 20 Extractors and installation is in progress. The remaining 36 Extractors are in production and, upon delivery, will be installed in fire stations throughout the city in FY20.
Station Ice Makers:
To limit exposure and contamination of ice consumed by firefighters at the fire stations, crews are relocating ice machines away from the fire apparatus floor to a protected area within each station. Of the 39 stations requiring ice machine relocation, 19 have been completed. Funding for the remaining 20 has been identified through General Services Division and is slated to be completed in FY20.
Fire Station Renovations and Repairs:
e Exhaust Recovery System: Complete retrofit
- Remediation Fire Station 65: Mold remediation complete. Build-back is underway.
- Mold in Fire Station 17 was remediated; air testing underway.
- Mold in Fire Station 60 was remediated.
- Renovation Fire Station 43:Renovation in progress. Estimated date of completion is November 2019.
- Renovation Fire Station 101: Fire Station 101 remediation and build-back has been completed after the station incurred flood damage during the May 3rdstorm.
- Roof Replacement Station 102:Complete roof repair work slated to be completed in FY20.
- Construction Fire Station 55:New construction of Station 55 is in progress. Estimated completion is October 2019.
- HVAC Service Requests:General Services Division addressed a combined total of 1,843 Fire Station HVAC service requests throughout 95 facilities in 2018 and 2019.
- Roof Service Requests:General Services Division addressed a combined total of 213 Fire Station roof service requests throughout 52 facilities in 2018 and 2019.
- Plumbing Requests: General Services Division addressed a combined total of 1,735 Fire Station plumbing service requests throughout 95 facilities in 2018 and 2019.
- Strategic Needs:
FIREFIGHTER HEALTH AND SAFETY
Incidence of cancer:
Firefighters have 9% higher rate of cancer diagnoses than the general public.
Vehicle exhaust fumes and other residues on protective gear; a lifetime of environmental exposure to carcinogens in a compressed time period or chronic exposure throughout a firefighting career.
Accomplishments: Upon arrival at HFD, two and a-half years ago, Chief Peñamade a priority to address long-overdue cancer prevention. Through planning, budgeting and oversight, this year, the Department saw the following results:
Compliance Officer– A first for the Houston Fire Department
Assignment of a Personal Protection Compliance Officer to monitor and inspect personnel to ensure that the 3500 firefighters in 94 fire stations are meeting gear-cleaning and inspection requirements, adhering to National Fire Protection Association regulations.
Protective Hood- Funding secured for a second protective hood to allow firefighters to have a clean hood while contaminated equipment is laundered and cleaned. Hood distribution complete by end of the week.
Respiratory Protection - Self-contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) with particulate filter respirators were issued to Arson Investigators for use during investigations and other environments where particulate exposure is possible.
Gear Bags- Issued to firefighters to protect and encapsulate protective equipment during transport to limit exposure from soiled gear.
Gross Decontamination Kits - Post-fire decontamination kits have been issued to all Engine companies. These kits provide tools and equipment to wash off contaminants and residue from firefighters’ personal protective gear.
Decontamination Wipes - For use immediately after a fire-related incident to remove soot and other contaminants from the surface of skin, limiting absorption, inhalation or ingestion of dangerous particulates.
Arson Division Personal Protective Equipment - Upgraded safety helmets, fire boots, coveralls and Tyvek suits were issued to Arson Investigators to reduce exposure to soot and other carcinogens.
Life Safety Bureau - Safety equipment including mask with respirator kit and Tyvek suits were issued to the Department’s plan-checking team for use when particulate/asbestos exposure is possible.
Atmospheric Gas Monitors - Purchased and issued to Arson Investigators and certain Life Safety Bureau personnel and Emergency Operations District Chiefs to detect hazards and assess atmospheric conditions.
Strategic Needs: NPPA Compliant Annual Physicals, at a cost of $500 per person, totals $2 million for 4,000 personnel.
TRAINING AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Accomplishments: Policy Manual Review: In the 12 months, the department conducted a comprehensive review of operational policies and procedures to ensure consistent practices, compliance with new regulatory requirements and to address new systems and technologies.
Probationary Firefighter Program:In the 12 months, the Department consolidated and standardized training, development and evaluation process for probationary firefighters
To develop a more skilled and qualified workforce, in 2018-2019 the department developed a program matrix and Texas Commission on Fire Protection (TCFP) curriculum to certify Company Officers as TCFP Fire Officer I- IV, Incident Safety Officer, HazMat IC, Marine Firefighting, and Fire Instructor I-III.
Biannual Multi-company Training:In 2018, initiated on-duty, continuing education training for emergency operations personnel
Defensive Driver Program:Program initiated in March of 2019. The department has experienced a decrease in preventable accidents each month since.
Scene Decontamination Training
- Formal Professional Development: Program to prepare officers at all levels for future advancement and provide skills needed to excel in their current positions.
- Fireground Survival Refresher: To address the critical elements of fire ground survival. Firefighters are trained to perform potentially life-saving actions if they become lost, disoriented, injured, low on breathing air, or trapped.
HOMELAND SECURITY/DISASTER RESPONSE
Accomplishments: Water Strike Team:In the last 18 months, HFD developed, trained and equipped an 80-member auxiliary flood response team available to staff and deploy additional high-water equipment and assets recently acquired by the HFD.
Wildland Firefighting Team:In the last 18 months, HFD developed, trained and equipped a 42-member Wildland Firefighting team. HFD has affiliated with the Texas Forrest Service/Texas Interstate Fire Mutual Aid System for manpower and equipment response to disasters and major emergencies in our region.
Active Shooter Training:Developed a training curriculum and trained instructors to deliver an Active Shooter response training course to emergency response personnel. The department-wide training will be delivered over the next 18 months.
in 2020+: Incident Management Teams:Training to develop internal personnel to function as support or comprehensive incident management staff in response to local, regional or national emergencies or disasters.
Beginning in 2017, HFD Chief Peña began assessing and reverse-engineering the inherited response model which over-deployed assets to citizen calls for help. This year, the department rolled out Phase 1 of a new response model that more efficiently deploys the most appropriate resource, in the correct amount, for the circumstance.
- Ambulance Unit Response: Only an ambulance will be deployed to Medical incidents likely to result in transport to a medical facility.
- Medical calls unlikely to require a single truck will be deployed to transport to a medical facility.
- Elevator malfunction incidents without report of injuries or other medical concerns will receive a single fire truck response.
- Sparking electrical outlet reports, without visible flame, will receive a single truck response.
- Replacement of the 20-year-old computer aided dispatch (CAD) system. Incorporated into the CAD replacement project should be an Automated Vehicle Locator (AVL) system and a Medical Priority Dispatch System (MPDS).
- AVL: AVL provides a geospatial reference (on a map) to the location of fire department assets to quickly provide a view of utilization and availability. AVL is a function that helps identify and dispatch the closest unit to the emergency incident, further supporting response time improvement.
- MPDS: To better collect caller information, MPDS allows 911 call- takers to more accurately provide more pertinent information to responders; give direct aid to through the callers in a safe and efficient manner; make sound, sensible decisions about EMS responses; and make the most efficient use of our human and material assets.