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Consultant: Rename Texas fire department to reflect EMS

About 80 percent of the calls are medical, and rebranding the department to reflect that can break down artificial barriers between EMS and fire, a city-hired firm said

Kirsten Crow
Corpus Christi Caller-Times

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Corpus Christi’s Fire Department could see a branding shift if officials heed the advice of a consulting firm hired by the city to evaluate the department on a number of key questions, including several that directly addressed efficacy and efficiency.

The firm, MGT of America, suggested the department consider renaming its services as Corpus Christi Medical, Rescue and Fire Department or Corpus Christi Emergency Services Department, and breaking down artificial barriers between EMS and fire supervisors to ensure flexibility in providing services.

About 80 percent of the Fire Department’s responses are medical-related.

That recommendation is one of about 28 included in the report, which is the culmination of five months of data gathering and analysis, according to the document. The city hired the firm for $97,000 for the analysis.

The analysis also indicates that the department is properly staffed, meaning there is no expectation the study will result in increases or decreases in staffing, officials said.

The Fire Department is one of several city departments that has recently undergone a performance assessment. Others include the MIS Department, Fleet Management, Municipal Court and the Solid Waste Services Department.

The assessment was intended to analyze the status of the department, and anticipate and adjust to future trends, officials said.

Although consultants make numerous recommendations, they also noted in the document that the Fire Department “does an exceptional job in delivering services to the city of Corpus Christi.”

“The professionalism and dedication of the men and women of the department and its leadership are exemplary and representative of best practices in many cases,” it states.

Fire Chief Robert Rocha agreed.

“I believe we’re cutting edge on both (fire suppression and emergency medical services), and the report validated that,” he said.

Other recommendations in the report include what is described as “dynamic deployment of activity” — using historical data on heavy call volume times and locations, and keeping staff near those areas so that when calls come in, personnel will be closer to the scene instead of at the station.

Findings also show that station locations and deployment are appropriate, but that there are “significant issues” with the replacing the CCFD fleet and in its fleet maintenance facility, and that the city needs to address “significant technology gaps.”

Consultants say the city also needs to position itself for the future, including looking at some of the provisions in the collective bargaining agreement. For example, firefighters currently have the option of “opting-out” of being a paramedic after a certain number of years, states the executive summary of the report. This should be eliminated, according to the presentation.

Rocha said he agreed with many of the findings listed in the report, but not all.

For example, while consultants suggest that an assistant EMS director position become a physician’s assistant, Rocha said he’d prefer to see that position become a slot for a battalion chief.

Carlos Torres Jr., president of the Corpus Christi Firefighters Association, said late Thursday that he had not read the full report, which is 78 pages, but had seen a presentation by the consultants.

He noted that any recommendation made that is covered by the collective bargaining agreement would need to be negotiated. Torres also added he would keep an open mind about the study but said many of the findings were already known to firefighters.

Negotiations on the collective bargaining agreement are expected to begin in coming weeks.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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