Press Release: Orcas Island Fire and Rescue exists to serve our community. We are committed to protecting your life, the lives of your family and friends, your property, and our environment. As a result, we hope you have greater peace of mind and a sense of security and safety both day and night.
In 2013, OIFR responded to 879 alarms: 71 % were medical emergency responses, the remainder were fires and other events. We are an all hazards response service: medical emergencies, fire, rescue, car accidents, chemical spills, child births, strokes, broken bones, electrical problems, overdoses, missing persons, and weather related emergencies.
Additionally, we provide preventive educational programs such as classes on fire prevention, safety presentations in our schools, the Firewise Program, CPR/First Aid classes, free smoke detectors, and car seat loaners. When you ask for our help, we are committed to being there.
We are proud of our robust EMS program with excellent cardiac arrest survival rates and our proficient ability to reduce fire loss. Our newest program, Orcas Cares, was established last spring in collaboration with the San Juan County Sheriff, the Senior Center, Lahari, Lion’s Club, Orcas Medical Foundation, Hearts and Hands and others to help seniors and disabled people in need particularly with prevention assistance.
The 2014 Budget accurately reflects the goals of our Strategic Plan and will enable us to maintain our present levels of servicewithout any additional new facilities or expansion of service vehicles. This budget funds the 64 emergency response volunteers who take time away from families and jobs to help their neighbors.
OIFR employs four outstanding paramedics, one of whom is on duty 24 hours per day. We employ a Mechanic and a Safety and Training Officer who respond to emergencies as well. Administratively, the Chief and the Administrative Assistant are also EMT’s. We employ an Assistant Chief/Paramedic who is able to respond when our medics are already on a call (which is over 25% of the time). Lastly, to help manage the business functions of running a public agency with almost 75 people, we have a Financial Officer and a Coordinator of Volunteers and Human Resources.
The cost of maintaining the effective emergency response system we have on Orcas Island is a significant challenge which Orcas Island Fire and Rescue is meeting through detailed budget analysis and appropriateexpenditure of tax payer dollars. The fundamental challenge we face is to continue to provide the high level of services that islanders expect and deserve and to do that in the most fiscally responsible manner possible.
There are three primary factors that influence our budget:
· An increase in requests for our services (OIFR call volume has increased 29% since 2011 and 119% since 1999)
· The increasing requirements of current laws, standards, and business practices which entail increased direct costs and additional administrative responsibilities required to demonstrate compliance.
· The stewardship of seven fire stations and 22 service vehicles
Similar to the budgets of families and businesses on the island, the costs of providing emergency services has risen. Here are just some of the reasons why:
· Since 2000, the Consumer Price Index has risen 37%
· In 1998, the mandated cost of one firefighter’s protective gear was $1,121. Today it’s $4,000 and must be replaced every ten years
· Since 1998, the mandated time it takes to trainrecruit firefighters has increased from 76 hours to 174 hours or 129%
Orcas Island Fire and Rescue is ready when you need us. Our goal is to continue to provide the high quality services our community requires, thanks to our dedicated volunteers and staff and to your support.
Kevin K. O'Brien Fire Chief/CEO