Friday, October 01, 2010

First alarm newsletter

To: All Ulster County Emergency Services
From: Art Snyder
Date: September 30, 2010
Re: News and Information

American Red Cross – Due to financial constraints and a shortage of volunteers, the Red Cross has implemented a regional approach to the delivery of disaster services. This should result in a larger pool of volunteers to serve the community. However, the volunteers may be coming from a greater distance. This means consideration must be given to the potential housing needs of disaster victims much earlier. In a typical structure fire with displaced residents, it is advantageous for everyone if that request for ARC services can be made as early as possible in the incident.

DEC regulations for Class B and C dams – Effective August 19 new rules enacted require owners of Class B and C dams (intermediate and high hazard respectively) to develop an emergency action plan and submit it to the NYS Department of Conservation. One requirement of the plans is for the owner to work with local emergency personnel. More information is available at

Fire Radio System Changes – On September 1 we implemented the new radio protocols and began using the new radio channel configuration. I would like to thank everyone for their cooperation. The following clarification points were sent out via e-mail on September 9, but I think they are worth repeating here:
• Departments that have not yet had their radios modified / have radios that cannot be modified: By now you have figured out that for the most part, we are assigning operations channels based on battalion coverage (Bernie's battalion is getting F-7, Wayne's F-5, Ed's F-6 and Herb's old battalion F-4). This will not always be the case, but it is a pretty good indicator. This assignment allows for geographic separation of the same frequency. Some departments have advised that they haven't yet had the work done, or their radios cannot accommodate all the channels. If you are assigned an operations channel that you do not have, advise the dispatcher. We will TRY to assign another channel. However, if you are going to a mutual aid incident and operations are on a frequency you don't have, you will have to work around that (we cannot change an entire incident because someone doesn't have a channel).
• Having the additional operations channels allows for more flexibility. If you have a very large incident (for example, the gasoline truck fire on Route 9W in Esopus), it is now easier to assign one frequency for operations on the north end of the incident, and a separate one for the south side.
• Need for a "talk around" channel: in the past, F-2 was used for this purpose. If an apparatus needs to get in touch with an officer or vice versa, and an operations channel has not yet been assigned or requested, it is permissible to make an initial contact on F-2 and make arrangements to temporarily move to an ops channel for a brief transmission (remember to go back to F-2 after this so an official ops channel to be assigned). An example of this type of transmission might be: After dispatch C-42 wants to know if he has a driver for a piece of apparatus. He could get on F-2 and call E-42-11. That unit would answer him on F-2, they would switch over to an ops channel (any one), have their conversation, and then go back to F-2 for 42-11 to call out responding.
• Fire department ambulances with "enroute to hospital" type transmissions: these transmission should be conducted on F-2, the response channel.
• Mutual aid standby assignments: the mutual aid unit should use the response channel to advise 911 they have arrived and are manning the station to be covered.
• Please reinforce that F-2 is the response channel (not F-1 any longer).
• Please remember that on mutual aid calls, no mutual aid chiefs should be calling out responding.
• If a department is conducting a drill: call the 911 center via phone and we will assign you an operations channel.
• Please call by phone when an incident is complete and all equipment is back in service. We will provide times.

With respect to hiring the radio system consultant, eight responses were received to our request for proposals. There were two comparable proposals, but the difference in price was $25,000. Being financially prudent, we went with the lower cost proposal. After more than five weeks without receiving a contract back from that firm, we moved on to the second group. That firm returned the contract with no problem. The new company, Blue Wing Services, is also working in Greene, Delaware and Sullivan counties. This should be very beneficial to Ulster as we look to develop interoperability with our neighbors.

Recruitment and Retention – Another component to the Recruitment and Retention initiative has been unveiled, it is a Volunteer Recognition program. This program is NOT meant in any way to take away from any of the existing awards programs. It will provide another opportunity for the emergency services and general public to recognize those who have performed exemplary or heroically in the course of duty. A committee of emergency service providers will be appointed to set the criteria for the awards, and to review the nominations (which will come from the field). The first award presentation program will take place next year in mid-September. It is intended to complement the memorial services on September 11 (recognized as the National Day of Service and Remembrance, and the National Day of Volunteerism). The recognition event will be scheduled so that the actual day of September 11 remains sacred. In addition to that program the 2nd annual countywide open house is slated for October 3, the first day of Fire Prevention Week. Thank you to all who are participating.

Thank you to all the emergency service organizations for the kind words and thoughts as we mourn the passing of Emergency Services Dispatcher Joe Doyle, 56-22.
Joe served the resident of Ulster County for 25 years. He died September 26 at the age of 54. He leaves behind his loving wife Brenda and the two children he adored – Sarah and B.J.