The New Bern Fire-Rescue previously received business and community feedback on how the department could improve — now they're putting the plan into action with a focus on the community.
"We continue to seek an alignment with our community," New Bern Fire-Rescue Chief Robert Boyd said in a previous report. "Our goal is to not just meet community expectations but to exceed them. We take a lot of pride in being responsive to the customer and constantly work to provide the best service we can."
Local leaders expressed their positive and concerning thoughts about the fire department in a feedback session back in November 2021, according to the department's accreditation report.
The report showed New Bern Fire-Rescue could use the most improvement in fire investigation, fire prevention, domestic preparedness and public education.
Other concerns the community had were that the department has a low profile with community involvement and their public interactions sometimes lack empathy, the report shows.
Boyd said the department is continuing to "enhance their community outreach program to meet or exceed community expectations." Here are five ways the department is carrying out that goal among other things.
1. Enhancing Community Outreach
Outside of fighting fires, the New Bern Fire-Rescue is involved in several programs to assist and give back to the community. The department also provides fire prevention and education, which is one of their top priorities for the rest of the year, according to Boyd.
Boyd said the department will be more involved with the community by implementing this plan:
Providing fire/risk education to all elementary schools within the city
Providing meet and greet opportunities for school students during the beginning and end of the school year
Providing "Home Safety Visits"
Explore and create a ride-a-long program with the community
Developing a "Who we are, What we do" campaign
Participating in the New Bern 101 presentations
Continuing to meet with local non-profit groups
Some other safety services and education the New Bern Fire-Rescue provides are the Passenger Safety Seat Program, Project Alert (Smoke Detector Program), Safety Troupe (clowns), Puppeteers, Color Guard, Emergency Medical Services, and Technical Rescue Team, according to the fire department's website.
2. New equipment on the way
Boyd said the New Bern Fire-Rescue recently made several capital purchases of equipment for the 2022-2023 budget year.
One of the purchases was a new Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) Compressors to replace the old ones bought in 2003.
The National Fire Protection Association and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards specify minimum requirements of breathing air quality for emergency services organizations that provide their employees with respiratory protection devices, according to a 2022 to 2023 capital purchases report provided by Boyd.
The department will also update its extrication tools so the firefighters can provide faster and more efficient medical care than the team does currently, Boyd said.
3. Reducing Cancer Risk
Cancer has become a leading cause of death among firefighters, according to the department's report. The report says firefighters have a 9% greater risk of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14% higher risk of dying from the disease.
New Bern Fire Department will be installing a Diesel Exhaust Removal System within this year and 2023. The report says the department is trying to be proactive in reducing cancer risk by installing the system — to capture harmful pollutants and gases that shouldn't be exposed to the public.
4. New Wildland Skid Units
Developments within New Bern are building residential properties close to wildland areas, according to the report.
The department's new Wildland Firefighting Skid Unit will allow the fire-rescue team to access areas their fire equipment cannot reach. The units are designed to mount on a truck or trailer.
5. An updated fire service vehicle
Currently, the New Bern Fire Department has a 2007 F-250 fire service vehicle.
The department will have a new and improved fire service vehicle, according to the 2022 to 2023 capital purchases report.
Utilization of the vehicle reduces wear and tear on larger fire equipment and also saves cost on fuel.
Reporter Symone Graham covers local public safety for the Sun Journal. Have a story tip or idea? Send it her way at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Sun Journal: Mixed community feedback prompts New Bern Fire-Rescue improvement plan