LINCOLN, Neb. Lincoln Fire and Rescue recently put out its annual report and a growing capital city comes with new obstacles.
With an aging fleet and a further reach for calls, now more than ever LFR must work to find affordable solutions for 2019.
Chief Micheal Despain says 2018 was a year to get back to the basics.
He says the department took time to focus on improving, expanding and adapting but he doesn't deny there is still room for improvement in a few areas.
The Lincoln Fire Department says the biggest improvements made in 2018 were focused on making emergency responses more streamlined.
"If I had to equate it to one thing, it’s a synergy,” said Despain. “It doesn’t mean that we still don't have special interest, it just means that the energy and the momentum we have is much better now."
Despain says that synergy comes from growth, with the addition of new firefighters for two new stations and the addition of a new medic unit to their fleet.
Despain says that LFR’s strong points in the year stemmed from that expansion, with high ratings in response times and maintaining one of the best cardiac survival rates in the nation.
"We did it at less cost per capita than the year before, we actually did it cheaper year two then we did year 1, if you wanna compare '17 to '18,” said Despain. “I think we’re proud of that in terms of efficiency."
Despain does say an aging and expanding Lincoln population can cause a strain on LFR’s resources, specifically on EMS response times. Which is the only category that LFR ranked below average for emergency services goals.
'We know that the aging population will drive a lot of that call volume in the EMS piece, as those baby boomers get into that age group, it’ll create a lot more call volume, so there is some federal law that allows us to explore some alternative destinations, we don't have to go to the ER every single time," said Chief Despain.
Another thing aging is LFR’s fleet of vehicles with over 20 units receiving an "F" rating something Despain acknowledged and hopes to make their improvement a big part of 2019.
"We still have a fleet that is still unhealthy,” said Despain. “That’s coming a long ways but we still have five to six pieces of apparatus that are way out of their service life and they’re still front line vehicles and were going to have to work on that."