360 Fireworks Party

Thursday, July 5, 2012


The union representing Covington firefighters went public today urging citizens to contact City Hall and the city's elected leaders to stop rumored and/or recommended cuts to the department. Local 38 of the International Association of Firefighters posted this to its Facebook page:
The Covington City Commission is considering more cuts for the Covington Fire Department. "Friends" please read and repost on your page these facts of how losing Fire/EMS protection will affect the citizens and business of Covington.

1. This job of firefighting requires firefighters. Hoselines won’t deploy themselves, and there’s no firefighting robot we’re currently aware of that can function at or above a human firefighter’s level.2. Time affects life. By reducing the amount of time it takes to perform fireground tasks—specifically, deploying a hoseline—the better the outcome for the victim and the firefighters.3. Time directly correlates to the number of firefighters available. The more firefighters on the fireground, the less time it takes to complete a task.
All of the above facts also directly apply to Medical Emergencies such as Heart Attacks, Strokes and Trauma (injuries from Car Accidents, etc.). 
Facts and Figures 
• In November 2010 the City of Covington signed a Memorandum of Understanding promising to staff the Fire Department at 30 personnel/day (10 below NFPA recommendations). In August 2011, the City of Covington knowingly violated the MOU and reduced manning to 27 personnel/day, ‘browning out Engine Co. #1 on a frequent basis.
• Prior to Engine Co. #1 being ‘browned out’, Covington had 5 completely staffed stations totaling 5 Fire Engines, 1 Heavy Rescue, 3 Ambulances and 2 Ladder Trucks. 30 firefighters 24/7/365. We now have been running with 27 personnel on days that Engine Co. #1 is browned out (26 of the 30 days in June 2012). The National Fire Protection Agency suggests that a fire department the size of Covington should be running with 40 firefighters/day.
• The Insurance Services Office (ISO) gave a Covington Fire Department a Class II rating, keeping insurance rates low for citizens. In order to accomplish this rating the department uses it’s 3 ambulances as firefighting apparatus as well as EMS. The EMT’s and Paramedics on these ambulances are trained as firefighters, go to fire calls and join crews off fire engines/trucks in order to have the amount of personnel needed to fight a fire.
• In May 2012 the Fire, Police, and Public Works labor unions all signed new 4 year collective bargaining agreements saving the City of Covington $10 million.
• In June 2012 the City introduced the idea of separating the EMS from the Fire Department reducing the manning (once again) to 21/day
• OSHA has federal mandates that state that firefighters must have a 2 man team in order to enter a structure fire and a second 2 man team on stand-by for their safety. This is referred to as “2 in – 2 out”. If a fire engine arrives with only 3 personnel this mandate cannot be met and the firefighters will have to remain outside until more arrive. With no ambulances and only 21 personnel/day this will happen more frequently. The most affected neighborhood would be South Covington (Company #5). The next due company is 10 minutes away and with no firefighting ambulance, there would only be 3 total firefighters until the next due arrived.
• In order to combat this, the City suggested use mutual aid from Taylor Mill to supplement staffing. Taylor Mill is a majority volunteer fire department and has no guarantee of how many (if any) firefighters they could provide. Should citizens of Covington pay the tax rates set by the city and have their fire protection provided by another fire department that is staffed with volunteers?
• Structure fires more than double in size and severity every minute.
• Flashover – an explosion caused by the build-up of gases – occurs 5–8 minutes after a fire begins. Once a flashover occurs all contents are fully involved in fire and any life (human or animal) cannot be saved.
• The “Domino Effect” is real, and company brownouts leave our city with too few resources. South Covington and West Covington are most affected because their Fire Companies have been required to respond further away from their neighborhoods on a more frequent basis.
• Each fire engine and each ambulance has a paramedic and full ALS equipment for medical responses. As well as eliminating ambulances from the fire department, the City of Covington has suggested removing paramedics and ALS equipment from fire engines as well.
• Your chance of surviving a cardiac arrest falls 7 to 10% for every minute between collapse and arrival of advanced life support.
• The American Heart Association recommends cardiac defibrillation within 5 minutes of cardiac arrest.
• Brain death can occur within 4-6 minutes of cardiac arrest.
• Severe trauma needs to be in the operating room of a level 1 trauma center (University of Cincinnati CEC) within 1 hour.
Falling ShortNFPA recommends response times to be 5 minutes 35 seconds 90% of time. With company brownouts response times will increase beyond this recommendation. Also, with another agency providing ambulance service, this response recommendation may not be met and the City of Covington will have no authority to enforce quality service. 
Recent Run Totals
• 2009 10,492 
• 2010 10,928 
• 2011 11,319 
• 2012 11,970 (projected) 
Calls for service are increasing while staffing levels are decreasing. 
Contact Your Mayor & City Council  
638 Madison Avenue  
Covington, Kentucky 41011
Larry Kline – City Manager lkline@covingtonky.gov
Chuck Scheper – Mayor cscheper@covingtonky.gov
Sherry Carran – Commissioner scarran@covingtonky.gov
Shawn Masters – Commissioner smasters@covingtonky.gov
Steve Casper – Commissioner scasper@covingtonky.org
Steve Frank – Commissioner stevefrank@covingtonky.gov


  1. I thought these guys were self annointed heroes. They don't sound like heroes here. They sound like whiny, spoiled union guys. Real heroes are realistic, and make the best of a bad situation.

  2. Really? How are they not being realistic? They are providing a service that the citizens expect and with less resources than possible to provide it to the expected level. luckily the city has not had an ISO regrade, reductions in manpower would affect this class 2 rating, making it a class 3 or 4 would cost businesses and homeowners hundreds to thousands of dollars more a year. in a sense it would be more cost effective to keep the number of firefighters around. this is blatant union busting, not helping the citizens. if you wanted to help the citizens you would add another full time ambulance, not outsource it to a company such as rural metro, which offers poor patient care and poor level of professionalism. but if you think your ultra-rightwing ideals are going to be better for the citizens of Covington, your ignorance is absolutely profound.

  3. As a resident who pays taxes for a service, I expect those services to be provided. If the commissioners of the city would like to go without these services then they should be willing to say that they would remove their addresses from the responses that the police/fire/EMS make in their area. The first thing you do after you buy a car or house is buy insurance for it. Well Covingtons emergency service is the insurance policy for my families lives. SAVE FIRE/EMS/POLICE

  4. I am not a Covington Firefighter, but I am a firefighter with another city. Cities across the US have tried privatizing EMS and fire service and most have switched back. There is no savings and customer service, response times etc declined. Think about it, how can privatizing EMS and fire save the city money and still maintain the quality of services residents of Covington are now receiving? Answer is, privatizing cannot maintain the same level of service because unlike the current ems and fire, the private company must show a profit. How do they show a profit? They pay less wages realizing constant turnover of personnel, they reduce number of units ready to respond, and cut corners with patient care to reduce overhead.
    If the Covington Commission wants to do what is best for the Citizens of Covington they will find a way to maintain their own fire and ems and live up to the existing contract of maintaining the 30 personnel per day.