Letters to the editor
Studied to death
There are “studies” in addition to the three conducted by national consulting firms. Several internal studies have only confirmed the trends and validated the need to address staffing and station location. Chief executive officers have reviewed the data from the internal studies. The conclusions remain the same.
The Town Council has an expert CEO in Bob McLaurin. He too has studied the data, validated the data, and examined the implications from multiple perspectives. Again, the same conclusions. The issues related to fire service staffing and the West Vail station have been studied over and over. No other issue before the town of Vail has undergone such intense scrutiny.
Elected officials have asked, “What has changed?” The inside picture of fire service operations tells a story of competing priorities, all important and all critical. The emphasis has shifted over the years in an attempt to maintain bare minimum standards. Fire inspections have been suspended to accommodate basic firefighter training. Skills maintenance is essential to execute the tasks we are asked to perform.
Administrative functions have been pared down to accommodate the daily influx. Time to “manage” has been replaced with a litany of meetings and appointments. The work that was once done by five administrative personnel is now assigned to three.
Perhaps the most significant concern I have is the legacy we will leave to the personnel at Vail Fire and Emergency Services and to the citizens, guests, and businesses in Vail. So much time is being spent dealing with the daily workload, little to no time is left to allocate toward developing the leaders of tomorrow. While we have some information on most buildings, a vast array of technical aspects has been left in the memory of a select few individuals.This information should be transcribed for the next generation of fire fighters and for the benefit of the building owners and tenants.
The addition of a third fire crew would allow a realignment of the workload. A third crew would allow the ability to resume tactical and strategic planning within the department, development of pre-fire tactical plans for the most of the buildings in Vail, and provide coverage for the increasing number of simultaneous alarms; and YES, the third crew should be stationed in West Vail.
This issue is just as important for the future of Vail as are any of the pending redevelopment proposals, bond issues, conference centers, parks, sheets of ice or any one of the multitude of issues before us. Conditions in 1982 indicated a need for a third crew stationed in West Vail. Vail has grown and changed since then. The need is greater now than ever. I am concerned we do not allow the pressures of growth lead to unnecessary losses. The service delivery system is stressed and has been for many years.
The members of the Town Council are your elected representatives. Support them with your input. This is not just an issue of “data,” “studies,” or “budget.” For the mutual benefit of the town, I would ask those of you who work, live, own business, or have ever had the opportunity to utilize the services we provide, to contact members of the Town Council.