Mark F. Howard- Deputy Chief- Operations Division
Serving the City of Keene since August 1, 1993
Promoted to current position August 2006
Certified Level III Firefighter, National Registered EMT-P, Company Officer I & II, Hazardous Material Technician, Associates Degree- Fire Science
The City of Keene Fire Departments Operations Division provides Fire Suppression, Emergency Medical Service, Technical Rescue Response, and Hazardous Material Response to the City of Keene and surrounding communities through the Southwestern New Hampshire Fire Mutual Aid System. Note that the SWNHFMA Dispatch is attached to the Central Station.
The goals of the operations division includes maintaining balance of our challenges, focusing on our tasks and motivation. We work to provide the highest level of service through dedication, accountability, competency, and by providing the firefighters the best equipment available. We do this while maintaining the highest level of safety for our members and the community we serve.
The staffing of the Operations Division consists of four shifts, (A,B,C,D) with one Captain per shift, serving as commander of the shift. There are two Lieutenants per and six firefighters/EMT's per shift. Currently there are fourteen paramedics and twenty three EMT-Intermediates assigned to the Operations Division.
The Career Personnel are supported by a paid Call Company Force consisting of an additional twenty-five officers and firefighters.
The Operations Personnel operate out the Central Station, located at 32 Vernon Street, and Station 2 which is located at 110 Hastings Ave. The Central Station houses 2- Engines, 1- 110' Ladder, 1-Pumper/Tanker, 1-Heavy Rescue, 1-Brush Truck, 1-OHRV Unit (Polaris Ranger), 2-ALS Ambulances, 2- Haz-Mat Response Trailers, 1- Rescue Boat and a 1953 Ariens Fox (Keene Engine 2). Station 2 houses a 75'Quint, 1- ALS Ambulance and 1- Brush Unit.
The City is broken down into two response districts. District one, which Central Station handles, covers from the eastside of Route 12 to the bordering towns. District two, which is handled by Station Two, is everything west of route 12 to the bordering towns. Although each station has a primary response area it is not uncommon throughout the day that both stations be assigned to incidents together to provide needed resources, equipment or personnel. Note: The City of Keene also provides Fire Protection to the Town of Roxbury and contract ambulance service to the towns of Chesterfield, Nelson, Spofford, Surry, Sullivan, Westmoreland. We also provide Paramedic Intercept Response to surrounding communities by contract.
In 2008 the Chief of the Department assigned a Re-Structuring Committee to work with the Chief Officers to review how we operate all aspects of the department. The primary goal was to have the ability to increase staffing, efficiency, safety while trying to maintain a responsible budget. In November of 2008 many operational changes were placed in effect, they included a change in our callback policies, increased shift staffing from nine assigned per shift to ten (added 1 firefighter/EMT), increased minimum shift staffing from seven to nine, changed three piece responses to target hazards to a two unit response, added two unit responses to other major residential and all commercial occupancies for fire alarms, odor investigations or appliance fires. All reported building fires remained as a Engine, Ladder, Quint and Chief Officer response. The committee continues to review the progress made and changes that may still need to be made. This has been a very dynamic process of change and the members should be commended for their efforts in this process.
In 2008 the City of Keene Fire Department responded to 3,776 emergency calls. Of these, 1461 were classified as Fire/Rescue/Haz-Mat responses and 2,315 were classified as EMS. The department responded to 72 incidents that were classified as a first alarm or greater fire. There were a total of 5,012 unit responses. District 1 responded to 2,804 calls while District 2 responded to 962 calls. A total of 10 calls were classified as Mutual Aid.
The Operations Division has been very busy over the last three years with several department projects. These projects were handled by the departments Equipment Committee, SCBA Committee and Rescue Truck Committee that is comprised of members of the shifts. These shift members have worked hundreds of hours on all of these projects and have done a tremendous job. These projects have been funded through the operating budget and by awarded grants.
The projects included total standardization of all nozzles on attack lines, upgrade and purchasing of water rescue equipment, upgrade and purchase of hazardous material response equipment, upgrades and purchasing of new high and low pressure air bags with control unit, up grade and purchase of new ropes rescue equipment, purchase of new SKED Tripod with haul system, total replacement of all department SCBA, replacement of Rescue 1, replacement of Boat 1, purchase of new trench rescue equipment, purchase of new vehicle extrication stabilization equipment and purchasing of a new technical rescue trailer.
Most of these projects are complete however the new Rescue 1 which will be a Spartan/E-One 20' Rescue walk around. This project was assigned to the Rescue Truck Committee who has worked the last two years to assess the needs of the department, the space, weight and equipment that is on the existing rescue, the space that is needed for the new rescue for today's and future equipment. The committee has done a great job assessing all needs, meeting with many rescue manufacturers and finally developing the specifications for the new heavy rescue. The unit will be very well equipped, once it is delivered and outfitted.
A few of the items on the Rescue include, 6-person raised roof custom cab, cab storage area for water rescue suits, dual Hurst power units that will supply 2- hydraulic reels in the front bumper and 2- hydraulic ports in the drivers side rear compartment. A 6000 psi, 3- bottle cascade air system with booster pump, command light tower on roof, 35 KW generator. The unit is expected to be delivered in the fall of 2009. This project is being funded by the Fire Department Capital Improvement Program.
The department is also in the final stages of ordering an 18' technical rescue trailer that will be used to haul specialized rescue equipment and or supplemental equipment not carried on Rescue 1. This project is being handled by the Equipment Committee. The equipment carried on the unit will include a USAR Trench Kit, Confined Space equipment, USAR Raker Kit for wall/collapse stabilization, cribbing, trench shores and whalers along with additional lighting, generators and small tools. This unit is expected to go in service late summer of 2009 and is being funded by Homeland Security Grant.
The department has just received and is currently training on our New Scott AP-75 SCBA units. This was a total replacement of the department SCBA to upgrade to the New NFPA 2007 Edition Standard for SCBA. A total of 58 Scott AP-75 units along with 120 masks and 4- complete RIT kits were purchased. Each member is being assigned their own mask with voice amp. This project has been in progress for over two years with the department SCBA Committee working very hard to review the department needs and the equipment available. The work also included demonstrations and training with the two primary packs recommended. The department members then completed survey forms of the equipment and forwarded a recommendation to the Chief which was approved. This project was funded by the Fire Departments Capital Improvement Budget. The equipment is expected to go in service late June 2009.
With the purchasing of all of this equipment the department has worked very hard to conduct training with factory representatives on the equipment. This training has been coordinated with the Training Division of the Department. Training in all of the NFPA Technical Rescue Disciplines is the goal of the Department. Currently all career members have had extensive training in Swift Water Rescue, advanced rope rescue including high angle, vehicle extrication. We continue to work on confined space, trench rescue and building collapse while at the same time trying to balance training for firefighter safety, Fire Suppression, Haz-Mat and EMS.