DALLAS — Todd Brumfield knew he wanted to live in Dallas long before he was hired for a full-time post on the city’s ambulance crew.
Brumfield, who was named Dallas Fire & EMS chief earlier this month, had his first experience with Dallas in 1986, when he volunteered with the ambulance. He worked in Dallas for a year before taking a paid position in Portland. Brumfield moved to north Salem to cut down on the commute.
Salem wasn’t a good fit, and two years later, he moved his family back to Dallas. He continued to work in Portland, and then in Woodburn before taking a job with the Dallas EMS department in 2001.
Brumfield also became a fire department volunteer that year.
“Shortly after 9/11, the fire department had an academy and I joined,” Brumfield said.
In the EMS department, he was hired as a senior paramedic. Later he became the EMS coordinator, and then advanced to division director.
“I was in charge of the division,” he said. “I did the budget. I did the hiring and the firing.”
When former fire chief Fred Hertel took over the departments, he reorganized the departments, and named Brumfield deputy chief of operations for both fire and EMS.
Brumfield took on the acting chief role in January following Hertel’s departure. He said he was always interested in taking the job permanently. City Manager Greg Ellis decided to forgo a recruitment for the post and appointed Brumfield. He announced his decision at the May 6 Dallas City Council meeting.
“Todd has been with the city of Dallas for 18-plus years and during that time that I have worked with him, he has shown a great deal of professionalism and exceptional knowledge of the fire service in general, and the Dallas Fire & EMS in particular,” Ellis said. “I do not believe Dallas could have found a more qualified person, and I’m excited about the future of Dallas Fire & EMS under Todd’s leadership.”
Brumfield takes over the position when many fire districts are joining with other districts to provide service. He said Dallas has a lot to consider before embarking on that path.
He said moving forward with consolidation would require finding out whether citizens would support such a move, whether the city council would approve it and if it is the most cost-effective option.
“In my mind right now, we haven’t explored all of those pieces to the fullest, to understand how we want to deliver those services,” Brumfield said. “I’m not opposed to consolidation, but in my opinion, it needs to be at the right time, for the right reasons and with the right partners.”
He said the fire department has made progress with response times, particularly the part of response time over which firefighters have the most control: turnout time.
Turnout time is the time between when a call is received and when a crew on an engine that can fight a fire leaves the station. Since adding paid firefighters between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week, turnout out time has been two minutes or faster 73 percent of the time. The department goal is to have turnout time be two minutes or faster 90 percent of the time.
Brumfield said having the initial response team at the station gives volunteer firefighters time to respond with a second truck.
Brumfield said that’s successful for departments that have a combination of paid staff and volunteers.
“With combination department, the hope is when you get that fire engine out first, and you have the ability with that team to start to mitigate the fire, that buys you time for those volunteers to get down to the station,” Brumfield said. “A lot of times, on smaller fires, that works.”
He said the department relies heavily on volunteers to do its job, even with the addition of paid firefighters.
He said the fire department has three additional needs that will improve service: A paid nighttime response crew, a training facility, and a space for the night shift firefighters to sleep.
“If those three areas could be addressed with the city, I really think the city’s resources would carry us for several more years,” Brumfield said.
When not working as the Fire & EMS chief, he enjoys maintaining his cars, traveling or making plans for a future trip, and participating in Dallas Rotary Club events. He and his wife of 32 years, Julie, have two sons, Joshua and Tyler.
Brumfield said working in Dallas has always felt like being on a team.
“I truly enjoy and have enjoyed getting to know all the people I work with in the city. I’ve enjoyed working with all the folks, from HR, to admin, to finance, to streets,” he said. “I believe we have a good team and a lot of good people who work for the city.”
He’s tried and will continue to foster the notion that the Fire & EMS crews are part of a team that includes all city employees.
“As a whole, we serve the community," he said.