OCEAN CITY – Ocean City Fire Department (OCFD) Chief Chris Larmore reported to the Mayor and Council last week that service calls dropped significantly over the summer compared to last year.
“Successful is always good when everyone goes home safe, we handled the calls, and we stayed within our budget,” he said.
From Memorial Day to Labor Day, there were 2,745 EMS calls and 503 fire calls, totaling 3,248 calls.
Compared to 2011, EMS calls decreased by 14 and fire calls decreased by 28, which is a decrease by 28 in total calls.
“The interesting part of that is both June and July’s calls were up substantially, which would appear the calls were so down in August it actually offset the increase in June and July,” Larmore said. “In addition to this year, we did not have the minus one week of calls that we did with the hurricane [Irene] last year.”
Larmore added a new challenge the department took on was unexpected traffic delays in June that resulted in an increase in call volume and an unexpected absence of paramedic units.
“Overall, the summer was a challenge but I am pleased to report that at the end of the summer we actually had 100 percent of our personnel working but we completed the season without injuries,” he said.
With Hurricane Sandy influencing the area in late October, Larmore took the opportunity to update the Mayor and Council on the department’s storm preparedness. He said they had developed a storm plan a year ago following Hurricane Irene when several weaknesses in the department’s preparations were revealed.
“I am very proud to say that we implemented that storm plan prior to this year’s hurricane, 96 hours out, that enabled us to schedule 52 people not only over the course of the storm but we were actually prepared for a four-day event,” he said. “It went absolutely meticulous with all equipment, all personnel, and all provisions … we were completely back in service one week after that storm, all equipment, all buildings, all paperwork, and all accountability.”
Mayor Rick Meehan took the opportunity to thank the chief and the fire department on a successful summer.
“Your type of operations is always challenging and I want to thank all the members at your department for a job well done this summer, as well as being there, being ready, and being prepared for Hurricane Sandy,” he said.
Next, Larmore updated the council on future construction to a new Station 4 in uptown Ocean City and overdue renovations to headquarters in the downtown area.
Both projects are in a “study period” where engineering and planning is being done in partnership with the city engineer and those plans will be brought back to the Mayor and City Council in the near future. Larmore said those projects are expected to begin next fall.
The OCFD Fire Boat is near completion as sea trials are about to begin. The bad news is there have been some unexpected delays but the good news is the boat’s manufacturer has added a number of improvements to the vessel for no extra cost. The manufacturer, the locally-owned Moore Boats, has also donated funds to set up the fire boat’s location at 13th Street and the bay, including a boat lift.
In response to the mayor’s question on if the neighbors to the fire boat’s location have been met with, Larmore said, “absolutely … they made some very minimal requests regarding fencing, parking, and the direction of the lights. All of those were accommodated.”
The OCFD Live-in Program that was started two years ago has reached its maximum capacity and it needs to be expanded once Station 4 has been completed.
“It has exceeded our expectations and lowered the response times of having a complete crew,” Larmore said.
The department has also been able to offer additional officer training beyond fire service and municipal training.
According to Larmore, City Manager David Recor was able to approve an allocation of funds within the training budget to bring in a world renown trainer form the private sector, Dale Carnegie, and 28 officers participated in that training.
“It was well worth the expenditure,” Larmore said.
Larmore’s last agenda item was to request the purchase of a 2013 International/Horton Paramedic Unit that will allow the division to keep consistent emergency equipment within the current fleet. The service center will benefit as well by keeping the same chassis and power train set up as our current fleet.
The Mayor and City Council voted unanimously to approve the purchase of the vehicle at the cost of about $250,000 and was budgeted in the Vehicle Trust Fund.