The Chief’s Desk – April 30th

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Time to follow up on the hot topic of the month – SCBAs. We met with the IAFF’s Health and Safety Chair on Monday this week, and with a member of the NFPA Technical Committee. The IAFF is reaching out to SCOTT corporate in an effort to seek a resolution. I received a call from the Western Fire Chiefs Association (part of the IAFC) on Thursday this week stating that they were on board and starting to seek answers through their channels as well. Additionally, SCOTT is sending an engineer to meet with us and members of Prescott FD on May 4th to look at both SCBA rigs and discuss possible options.

Chief Moser and Nate Malm (their SCBA Tech) will participate in the meeting. We will have a Prescott SCOTT SCBA and the new CAFMA SCOTT SCBA side by side for comparison purposes. In my non-engineer mind, the solution is simple – change the fitting on the Prescott unit. However, because the SCBAs are certified we have to find out if the fittings can be changed without impacting the certification of the unit. If they can, great, then how do we make that happen? If not, what type of adapter can be designed to work between the two? Not having a real solution is not acceptable to us.

We had a meeting with Chief Ryan, Tucson FD, earlier this week regarding his experience with this type of issue during his tenure with Fairfax County FD. When Fairfax received their new SCBAs around 2013, they ran into a similar issue. Their air shop – we don’t have one of those – engineered a device that connected to the RIC equipment. Our new RIC bags already have the ability to connect to both systems, we can trans fill, and we carry a mask. It’s not ideal, but it worked for them. Phoenix and Mesa FDs participated in the meeting as well. Phoenix indicated that they run into this issue a lot in the Valley. Their approach is similar to Fairfax in that they set up their RIC bags and do not rely on buddy breathing when operating with an auto-aid partner.

For now, our RIC bags are designed to connect to both Prescott and CAFMA SCBAs. While not the best solution, it is the only one available today. Some agencies have used the RICs as their long-term solution; we are not satisfied with that as our only option. To that end, we plan to continue our dialogue with whomever we need to develop a plan that allows for our units to be interoperable.

On Tuesday this week, Firefighter Lynch, one of our SCBA certified folks, found a loose screw in one of our SCBA units. Per manufacturer specs, that particular screw is supposed to be set and have a Loctite- type substance applied. In total, we found 23 units with the same problem. The screw-in question has an assembly that will not allow the screw to blow out of its position. However, our techs erred on the side of firefighter safety and pulled the units until we had some resolution.

Our personnel met with an SCBA Tech from our vendor, MES, Wednesday morning via video conference. The problem was confirmed and the appropriate materials necessary for repair were sent.

We have had one motherboard and one heads-up display fail in the short time we’ve had the new equipment. In my opinion, that is just part of the deal when you replace that much equipment at one time. However, if we start to see a pattern of failures with motherboards or heads-up displays, you can rest assured that the issues will be properly addressed by our vendor and the manufacturer. Both SCOTT and MES are good partners who have worked well with us over the years.

There are several avenues we will use to keep you all posted on the status of our SCBA buddy breathing issue as we move forward. The most detailed accounts will likely be relayed via The Review. There will be other times you may receive information via email, or directly through your Battalion Chief. To that end, I highly recommend you pay attention to your email and The Review in an effort to stay informed. If you have questions, please ask. This will be a slow process, but that said, we have made significant progress in shedding light on this issue at a much higher level.

We are in the midst of creating our goals and objectives for Fiscal 21-22 and will have a final presentation for the Board at the June meeting. The overview of our 20-21 goals and objectives will be presented to the Board at the July meeting.

While COVID did throw a wrench into a few of our plans for this fiscal year, we still managed to accomplish a lot of the objectives we had listed. There are items that we list over multiple cycles and others that we plan to accomplish in one year. Accreditation is an example of an objective that will take more than a year to complete.

As most of you know, CYFD was accredited prior to the creation of the Fire Authority. We requested a year deferment on our renewal application so we could focus on creating CAFMA. The accrediting agency denied the request. Because we are an agency that believes in continuous improvement that extends beyond checking a box, we opted to let the accreditation lapse. As a side note, about a month later they received the same request from a larger agency in Colorado. They approved their request for deferral. Do I sound a little frustrated?

I digress, we were supposed to have training provided by the accrediting agency in 2020, however that training was canceled as a result of “stuff” that shut everybody else’s operations down. We cannot submit our intention to seek accreditation until after we receive the training. Our hope is to reschedule the training for this fall in line with our new objectives. Once we submit the notice of application, we have a certain amount of time to complete our packet and submit.

We have been following the accreditation model since the creation of CAFMA, which is a carryover from CYFD. To that end, we believe we will be in a good position to attain our accredited status once again. This will be a group effort, so we will be seeking additional assistance from throughout the Agency.

HR Specialist Lacie and I met with our producer Thursday this week to review the script for our first recruit video. The concept for this video is “What does a firefighter look like?” So far, I’m liking the storyboard and feel that the imagery tells a compelling story about who we are. We have talked with several of our folks about participating on camera. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Firefighter DuCharme this excited to participate in something – that is, besides his sincere desire to be interviewed on the podcast.

The concept of the second video is “What does a firefighter do?” Both videos are being produced by a professional company to ensure the highest quality. They will be used as a recruitment tool on social media, our website, the YouTube channel, and at career fairs. We have a couple of other ideas for future videos as well. One will focus on the overall organization featuring our Non-Operations divisions. We feel this will help recruit for Fleet, Tech, Warehouse, Admin, etc. The other may focus on the concept of a firefighter as an athlete. This video would feature some of our personnel who had athletic careers before joining the fire department. They will be used as part of a new recruitment campaign in the high schools and colleges, focusing on their athletic departments.

That’s the update for this week! Let’s see what opportunities next week brings…

CAFMA has now introduced The CAFMA Connect Podcast! Get to know the personnel and stay connected to your local fire service agency. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on their youtube channel at

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