INDEPENDENCE — Polk County Fire District No. 1 has completed work on its first standards of cover.
“The standard of cover is the user’s manual,” Chief Ben Stange said. “Anyone from the public should be able to pick it up, know who the fire district is, how it’s staffed, all that stuff.”
In the years 2014 through 2016, the district’s response times to medical calls varied depending on which vehicle was used and which station volunteers responded to.
Stange said he has a goal for the first medic to be out the door in 1 minute, 30 seconds, 80 percent of the time.
For the district’s main ambulances, those figures were met 58 percent of the time in 2016.
The district is close to meeting its goals of arriving to medical calls in the city limits of Monmouth or Independence within 8 minutes, 90 percent of the time.
Last year, the first two ambulances out arrived within 8 minutes 87 percent of the time.
The document uses tools to evaluate how the fire district is doing and sets a baseline to compare future performance.
“It defines the baseline emergency standards — where we’re going to be how fast,” Stange said. “We need a way to measure ourselves.”
Stange said the statistics used to create the standards of cover are from 2016 and before, so he is excited to see how 2017 holds up against those baseline figures.
The document also helps show how — and where — the department should grow through maps illustrating where the most calls for service are throughout the district’s boundaries.
It takes into account population growth estimates from Portland State University, and how that may affect the fire service.
According to the population forecast, the cities of Monmouth and Independence will grow, but not as quickly as nearby Dallas.
“When we’re talking future plans, we know we aren’t going to need three more two-story fire stations,” Stange said. “We will still be a combination agency at that population. We’ll still depend on volunteers. We’ll still need career staff.”
The standards of cover evaluate the response times for fire and emergency medical services calls, as well as the number of calls that the district receives.
While the number of calls have increased, it is the percentage of overlapping calls that concerns Stange.
“As we’re trying to demonstrate right now, it’s a bigger issue for us,” he said. “We have both ambulances from Dallas heading over right now — both of our medics are out.”
Creating the standards of cover document was one of the top goals of Polk No. 1’s board of directors in 2017.
Other goals include securing or improving funding, reducing liabilities, incentivize or require improved fitness, clarify and track training, and re-evaluate mission and vision statements.