Bloomington fire department’s top ISO score feted

On Friday morning, just outside the pavilion at Switchyard Park, Bloomington mayor John Hamilton and city council president Jim Sims undraped a new logo on the fire department’s Engine 5.

The new design features the numeral “1” and the phrase “ISO Class,” to highlight the Bloomington fire department’s recent score of 1, awarded by Insurance Service Office, Inc. (ISO).

That’s the top score on a 10-point scale, which is based on: the fire department’s equipment, staffing, training, and geographic distribution of stations (50%); water supply (40%); and emergency communications (10%).

Fire chief Jason Moore noted that the truck used for the unveiling is the oldest in the department’s fleet. But it’s not that old—it was purchased in 2016 and delivered in 2017.

Replacement of fire apparatus has been one of the investments made with revenue from the public safety local income tax, which was authorized in 2016.

Up-to-date fire trucks are one of factors feeding into the ISO score. Continue reading “Bloomington fire department’s top ISO score feted”

11 new firefighters added to Bloomington department, some will help staff temporary location

On Friday afternoon at the bottom of the grassy landscaped tiers in front Bloomington’s city hall, Devin Owens tore open an envelope and read aloud the contents: “Probationary firefighter Owens. I am assigned to Black Shift Station 1.”

The announcement earned a round of applause from a gathering of about 60 people.

The ritual reading aloud of station assignments by Owens and 10 other new firefighters came after they were sworn in by city clerk Nicole Bolden.

Fire chief Jason Moore, deputy chief Jayme Washel, battalion chief for training Tania Daffron, and a couple of dozen other firefighters attended the ceremony, as did Bloomington mayor John Hamilton, deputy mayor Don Griffin and several other city staff.

At 11 members, it’s the largest and most diverse recruiting class ever, Moore told The B Square.

The station to which Owens was assigned is currently closed, due to around a half million dollars worth of damage, which it sustained during the June 18–19 flooding. Continue reading “11 new firefighters added to Bloomington department, some will help staff temporary location”

Possibly closed through mid-2022 or longer: Flood-damaged downtown Bloomington fire station

A temporary location at 4th Street and College Avenue could be serving as Bloomington’s downtown fire station for another year and a half.

That’s based on a “right of access” agreement for the property, which was approved by the Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC), at its regular meeting on Monday. The  fire department’s right of access to the RDC’s property runs through the end of 2022.

Station 1 was damaged in the flooding that hit areas of downtown on the night of June 18.

The heavy rains that night filled the fire station’s basement with eight feet of water, drowning the building’s telecommunications center. Station 1 also served as the department’s administrative headquarters.

The temporary site—in the former Bunger & Robertson building at College Square—is four blocks east west of Station 1.

It has been housing the department’s administrative functions since the flood hit. On Monday, Bloomington fire chief Jason Moore told The B Square that the department also has operational crews stationed there from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

When the firetrucks are not at the temporary site, they are distributed to other stations in a way to optimize fire protection coverage from those four sites.

Providing fire protection around the clock from the temporary downtown location will be made possible by the RDC’s approval at its Monday meeting. The right of access includes permission to establish a temporary fire truck bay in the parking lot, which will allow the trucks to be secured overnight.

In connection with the temporary fire engine bay, Bloomington’s board of public safety will be asked at its Tuesday meeting to approve a $101,850 base contract with Mahaffey USA, to erect the structure. Continue reading “Possibly closed through mid-2022 or longer: Flood-damaged downtown Bloomington fire station”

Damaged in flood: Downtown Bloomington fire station closed for unknown time

Bloomington’s fire station at Fourth and Lincoln streets in downtown will be closed, “for an unknown period of time,” according to a press release issued by the city early Wednesday afternoon.

The closing is due to damage sustained to the station during last weekend’s flooding, when 5 to 7 inches of rain fell on Bloomington from late Friday night into Saturday morning.

According to the press release, the equipment and personnel for the downtown station will be redeployed at one of among the city’s other four stations.

According to the press release, the time for firefighters to respond to calls will not be compromised due to the closure: “Based on a careful reallocation of equipment and personnel, no significant delays in emergency response times are anticipated.”

[Updated at 3:58 p.m. on June 23, 2021: In a press release issued late Wednesday afternoon, the city of Bloomington announced that the police station, on 3rd Street, a block south of the closed fire station, is able to continue normal  operations despite flood damage. According to the release, the losses included “significant damage to electronic and computer equipment.”

The fact that there was not more damage is credited to fast-acting city employees.  Police chief Mike Diekhoff is quoted in the release saying, “[It] could have been much worse without the quick responses of BPD officers, non-sworn staff and facilities managers who began the recovery process well before the last drop of rain had fallen.”] Continue reading “Damaged in flood: Downtown Bloomington fire station closed for unknown time”

Bloomington annual safety report: Crime down overall, pandemic impact felt, fire and police chiefs to dig into data on response times, race disparities

On Tuesday morning, Bloomington’s police and fire chiefs, along with the director of community and family resources department, delivered the city’s state of public safety report.

The presentation of such a report has been made an annual event by Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton.  It is slotted ahead of the mayor’s state of the city address, which is scheduled this year for Thursday, Feb. 25.

Bloomington’s year in public safety for 2020 showed the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bloomington police made just 3,813 traffic stops in 2020 compared to 9,112 in 2019.  The total calls for service to police dropped 15 percent from 54,065 in 2019 to 45,947 in 2020.

Fire department efforts toward fire safety community education suffered due to the pandemic.. Community education contacts, like station tours, dropped in 2020 to a third of their 2019 levels, from 10,634 to 3,436.

Hamilton previewed the three presentations by framing them with some of his top issues: gun crimes, fire rescues, and efforts to divert people away from the criminal justice system. Continue reading “Bloomington annual safety report: Crime down overall, pandemic impact felt, fire and police chiefs to dig into data on response times, race disparities”

City council OKs contract with Bloomington firefighters, different longevity pay a highlight

At its meeting on Wednesday, the Bloomington city council approved a four-year collective bargaining agreement with International Association of Fire Fighters Local 586 that runs through 2024.

For a firefighter first class, the agreement calls for a 1-percent raise in 2021 to $54,625 in base pay. A 2-percent raise each year after that, through 2024, brings a firefighter’s base pay to $57,969.

According to a memo from the city’s corporation counsel, Philippa Guthrie, the city will be compensating firefighters by a total of about $2 million more, over the four-year term of the contract.

At the city council’s public safety committee review of the contract on Dec. 9, one concern raised by councilmember Jim Sims was about the diversity of the fire department. Fire chief Jason Moore reported a current department profile of about 5 percent women, and between 3 to 4 percent Black and or people of color.

Moore said that the department is working to recruit a more diverse pool of applicants, in part by supporting the Hoosier Hills Career Center in the Monroe County Community School Corporation and the Ivy Tech fire science program.

The numbers reported by Moore square up with the 2018 numbers in the department’s diversity profile that is available through the city’s B Clear data portal.

Translating the 2018 percentages into numbers, five out of 109 BFD employees in 2018 were women, two were Black, five were veterans and 25 had bachelor’s degrees. The average age was about 44 and they had an average of about 15 years of service. Continue reading “City council OKs contract with Bloomington firefighters, different longevity pay a highlight”

Budget 2020: Bloomington fire chief points to improvements in fire call and response time stats, says situation now too fluid to put timeline on new stations

The 10-year capital plan for Bloomington’s fire department includes two additional fire stations—one in the southwest and one in the southeast part of town. It also includes the replacement of two existing stations, and a relocation of the station that serves the Indiana University campus.

Those five stations together have an estimated cost of $28 million, and the three additional fire engines they’ll house will add another $1.8 million.

But those costs aren’t pegged to any particular year in the 10-year plan. So they’re not a part of the proposed $13.25 million budget for 2020, which Bloomington’s fire chief, Jason Moore, presented to the city council on Tuesday night.

Responding to a councilmember question about the timeframe for building new stations,  Moore said, “To start making decisions when everything is so fluid, I feel would be rushed and ill-advised. So we will be making recommendations when it’s appropriate and when the entire big picture of public safety can be really painted crystal clear for everyone.”

Moore also told the council that additional improvements in response times would likely depend on adding staff and stations. Continue reading “Budget 2020: Bloomington fire chief points to improvements in fire call and response time stats, says situation now too fluid to put timeline on new stations”