Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hurricane Alex Deployments

The City of Austin and the Austin Fire Department are supporting the mobilization of state and regional assets and resources in anticipation of Hurricane Alex. As of today, 36 AFD members have been activated to support State mobilization through Texas Task Force 1, as well as TIFMAS and IMT.

Please keep them in your thoughts. We want them all to stay safe and come home soon!

We'll keep you posted as things develop.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dispatch Kudos

At approximately 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 19, AFD dispatchers suddenly found themselves working without a CAD system. One of the servers in the basement died and took the CAD down with it. AFD Dispatch supervisor Lt. Rob Stephenson quickly moved the department to Recon Level 2 and implemented emergency "CAD down" procedures. Fire Specialist Gary Wilks responded to CTECC and brought the back-up CAD on line. Due to the hardware failure, this was not a routine or simple task. Fire Specialist Wilks then coordinated with the CAD vendor and CTECC IT personnel on a plan to bring the main CAD back on line. Meanwhile, the dispatchers continued taking calls and dispatching units by working with what they had.

Kudos to the on-duty dispatchers and especially Fire Specialist Wilks for coming in on a Saturday to take care of this urgent problem quickly and efficiently.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Fire Safety Week Begins Tomorrow

The Austin Fire Department’s observation of the 2010 Fire/EMS Safety Week activities will be Tuesday, June 22 (C shift), Wednesday, June 23 (A shift), and Thursday, June 24 (B shift). Fire/EMS Safety Week allows all of our sworn members to divert from the usual routine and focus on their safety and welfare. This is our chance to do something for ourselves – an opportunity to re-focus, in a proactive way, on those things which keep us healthy and able to go home to our families every shift.

This year we offer information and resources to promote our general health and wellness. The Safety Week theme for 2010 is “FIT 4 DUTY.” Related topics you are encouraged to study and consider are:
  • General Health and Wellness
  • Fitness
  • Food and Nutrition
  • Stress Management
  • Tobacco Cessation
  • Ending Alcohol/Drug Abuse
  • Protecting Yourself from Infectious Diseases
We encourage you to gain knowledge through this offering, and consider adopting habits which will improve your chances for a long, injury-free career!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Take Your Kids to Work Day

Today marked AFD's annual "Take Your Kids to Work Day" celebration and a great time was had by all! A number of displays and interactive events, along with popcorn and snowcones, greeted the kids and their parents. A special thanks to our Public Education folks, who put the whole thing together, and to our colleagues in APD and EMS who also participated. Check out the great photos below--and that guy at the top of the aerial? That's Assistant Chief George Blackmore!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Battalion 5C Vehicle Rescue Class

Ladder 15/C complement took to the junk yard earlier this month to conduct a refresher vehicle rescue class. Despite the heat, everyone got time on the extrication tools, practiced fundamentals, and learned valuable lessons about new car technologies.

Instructors Captain Craig Walker, Ladder 3C, and Fire Specialist Chris Moren, Quint 18A, led the class, providing years of experience and knowledge in the discipline.

The class objectives began with an overview of engine-oriented techniques and procedures that any company could perform with a simple set of hand tools. Next, the group discussed car construction, cut considerations, and the little details that can make a big difference in each evolution. Finally, the group systematically dismantled six cars.

The hands-on training and lessons learned strengthened the entire complement's understanding of vehicle rescue evolutions, and each company’s role and expectations for future vehicle rescue response.

(Thanks to Captain Peter Teliha for this info!)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Drivers Needed for Meals on Wheels

Firefighters Tim LaFuente and Eli Santiago have been volunteering as Meals on Wheels drivers for more than a year now, and they will not hesitate to tell you what a rewarding experience it is. Unfortunately, summer is the toughest time to fill in the badly needed substitute driver positions because of vacations, etc.

Can you spare a lunch hour, once a week? Route deliveries begin at 10:45 a.m. and normally last no more than 20-40 minutes to complete the assigned route. Coolers and food warmers are provided. All you need to provide is the transportation for the food, and a warm smile and kind word for the homebound recipient.

If you're interested, please call Meals on Wheels at 478-6325; they're located at 3227 E. 5th St. if you want to stop by and sign up.

Flu Survey

The City of Austin Pandemic Influenza Committee is conducting a voluntary survey to find out how employees feel about flu vaccines. Your opinions are important, whether or not you got a seasonal flu vaccine or an H1N1 flu vaccine last year. Please help us plan our future direction by completing this short, 5-minute survey no later than next Friday, June 18.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Proposed Budget Thanks

Our proposed budget was due to the City Manager this past Monday and we made it, on time! A special thanks to Robert Menchaca and Eugene Balaguer from HQ, who so ably handle our financial matters. They worked incredibly hard putting together our proposal, and making sure it got delivered on time. Chief Kerr made a special presentation to Robert and Eugene at yesterday's Executive Team meeting, awarding each of them a new AFD Challenge Coin. Thanks guys!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Special Olympics Fire Truck Pull

This past Saturday, members from several public safety agencies across the city and county got together to raise money for Special Olympics by seeing which team could pull a fire truck the fastest. Unfortunately, AFD lost by just seven tenths of a second (!), but all the money raised went to a great cause. Check out the photos below, taken by James Brosher of the Austin American-Statesman. Kudos to the Austin African American Firefighters Association, who helped put this event together.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Kudos to Quint 35 A-Shift (Corrected Info)

Editor's Note: With apologies to Detective Moore, the folks he MEANT to recognize are the crew of Quint 35 A-shift (Firefighter Greg Hernandez and Fire Specialist Randy Larsen are featured in the photo). I have corrected Detective Moore's note to reflect the correct personnel/unit. Many thanks to Captain Wayne Parrish and Battalion Chief Andre Jordan for the right info!

Please see the note and photo below from one of our colleagues in public safety. Way to go!

"On the evening of 5/30/10, I took my 8-year-old son, Bo, to eat with me at the Bill Miller Bar-B-Que on east Ben White. The firefighters from Quint 35 came by to pick up some chow. Well, as you can imagine, my 8-year-old son was in awe over their fire truck. I asked one of the firefighters if I could take a photo of my son next to the fire truck. They told me that they could do me one better!

"Here is the photo (below). As you can see from the smile on my son's face, he will never forget this picture, or the great men and women that serve the Austin Fire Department. This e-mail is a simple 'Thank You' to the guys on Quint 35. Y'all really made a little boy's day. God Bless and Stay Safe!"

Detective Chris Moore
Austin Police Department
South Bureau Night CIB

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Two AFD Employees Featured for Bike Month

Two of our folks, Fire Specialist Matt Buelow (E18/A) and Elizabeth Gray (Business Technology and Development/HQ) were profiled in last month's citywide HR Update to promote May as Bike Month. Read their storeis below and see how they changed to the bike commuting way of life.

Matt Buelow
Fire Specialist, Austin Fire Department, 16 mile commute each way

In 2007, Matt started riding to work infrequently. When fuel costs started rising, he began riding as often as he could. His car uses two gallons of gas a day for his commute. With gas at $4 per gallon (2008), he saved $250 in six months by riding 1,000 miles!

Matt got a helmet, got creative with his routes, and got the right clothing and gear. He enjoys cycling because it means he doesn’t have to buy gas, it helps improve his physical fitness, and it gives him time to himself. He rides to work as often as life allows, since having a 3-year old daughter in preschool can make things challenging!

"Lance Armstrong rides his bike for work, not to work," says Matt. "Is he more of a hero than you or me? I know my answer. Once a week, once a month, or on days that end in 'Y.' Everybody can do it."

Elizabeth Gray
Business Analyst, Austin Fire Department, 8 mile commute each way

Elizabeth rides her bike because she can. She loves the outdoors and the physical exercise. She wants to tell everyone that, although she looks and feels like an average middle-aged woman who’s had two kids, she rides a bike to work, and hopes that maybe other Austinites will think about doing so, too.

Her advice for new riders is to take Traffic Skills 101, offered by the City. This course made her feel much safer on the road.

She reminds new riders that your bike route will probably not follow your car route. She also suggests not trying to ride on the busiest roads, because you probably don’t need to. Another tip is planning ahead and using recommended routes found on the Bicycle Map web site.

"If you live outside the central city area, think about riding just once or twice a week, combining your bike ride with bus or commuter rail." Most of all, she wants those who are considering commuting to, "get ready to enjoy the freedom and sense of well-being that comes with riding a bike."