Rockledge Fire Services Capabilities

Rockledge Fire Services Capabilities

Columbia Southern University

Rockledge Fire Services Capabilities

I live in Rockledge, a city located in Brevard County, Florida. This little city is positioned on the East coast of the sunshine state, few miles away from the Atlantic Ocean and 45 miles East of Orlando, the main city of central Florida. Rockledge was founded in 1887 and it is the oldest city in Brevard County (City of Rockledge webpage, 2018). My community is very active in public safety and fire prevention. It has three fire stations fully equipped and strategically positioned on the 13 square miles of its territory. Rockledge public officials are all devoted to a proactive approach of safety and public health and they donated to the fire department an area in the heart of the city exclusively dedicated to training. This space is used for continuous training of fire fighters and volunteers. Additionally, drills and exercises are organized through all municipality using this training facility. Here is possible to recreate different real scenarios where trainees can practice their skills. In this facility is possible to use a three story training tower (ladder, hose, and rescue work), a confined space rescue simulator, a natural gas leak mitigation simulator, a vehicle fire simulator, and a vehicle extrication pad. In addition, the theory of fire prevention is taught in a medium size classroom equipped with the latest teaching technologies (Rockledge Fire Department, n-d).

The ISO/PCC rating scale is a system to evaluate municipalities’ fire capabilities. The acronym ISO stands for Insurance Services Office and PCC is the acronym for Public Protection Classification and it has been adopted in 1916. The system has been introduced in the ISO structure in 1971 (Diamantes, 2016). The PPC rating scale has been used for many years by fire chief as supporting document to budget increase in staff, equipment, and improvements in the municipal water supply. The main areas analyzed to calculate the rate of the municipality are fire alarm and communication systems, fire department, and water supply. In addition, since 2013, two more elements have been added, which are fire prevention and public safety fire education programs. Each area contains subsections and a score is assigned each one; the scale range from 1 to 10, being class 1 the category that represents superior property fire protection, and class 10 the one where the area’s protection doesn’t meet ISO’s minimum criteria. Properties located in municipalities with lower PCC class pay less insurance premium, therefore, each town tries to have a class 1 score. This rating system is very important because not only allows better insurance fees but it can regulate the estate prices in a community.

This project adopts a system similar to the one descripted above with some slight differences. The categories to analyze are the same of the original ISO/PCC, however, the scoring system is different because this exercise assigns classes 1 to 5, while the original scoring system is structured with classes 1 to 10. The importance of the classes is also different since, in the original classification, 1 is the best class and 10 is the worst, while in this exercise 0 is the worst and 5 is the best. Since I have no experience in fire codes and rating scale, I went to the fire department close to my house and they were really kind explaining me the department structure and answering my questions regarding the PCC grading scale. The result of the interview is summarized in the following table:

PCC Category Score Score Meaning
Emergency Communication System 3 County E-911 (Enhanced) system with central police & fire dispatching
Fire Department Structure 5 Staffed by full-time paid EMS and fire suppression personnel; stations positioned
Water Supply System 4 Municipal fresh water treatment; fire hydrants spaced greater than 500 feet apart
Community Efforts Risk Reduction 5 Staffed full-time Fire Prevention Division; annual fire prevention activities; fire inspections; fire investigations & code enforcements

(Columbia Southern University Course Syllabus, n-d)

The City of Rockledge Fire Department has a County emergency communication system which is shared between the central police and the fire dispatching. Once a citizen dial 911, the request goes directly to a central county dispatch through an Enhanced 911 telephone system. As soon the tele-communicator locates and identifies the type of emergency, he or she dispatches the county fire and EMS agencies and transfers law enforcement calls to the appropriate dispatch center. This system is effective, in fact it scores 3 out of 5. However, the most effective system is a municipal enhanced system where the emergency calls are received in a central dispatch or, alternatively, police and firefighters are dispatched on their own once the 911 call is received.

The structure of the fire department in my community is excellent, in fact it scored 5 out of 5 on the PCC rating scale. It has full time firefighters and EMS personnel paid by the city. The fire department also employs fire suppression personnel. Since a freight railroad run through the county where I live and the rail cars are mostly tanks than transport chemicals, the fire department has a section specialized in hazardous materials; however, they do not have any personnel specifically trained to respond terrorist attacks with explosive, but they are trying to budget it for the future. There are three stations strategically positioned able to cover all the city territory in a short period of time.

The water supply system in Rockledge is decent and sufficient to deserve a score of 4 out of 5 in the PCC scale. The fire hydrants are spaced greater than 500 feet apart but less than 1000 feet and they are located along all the roads of the municipal territory. Additionally, squares and main factories on the territory have extra hydrants to supply water in case of an accident occurs. The water supplied is fresh water treated ready to be used to extinguish fires. The hydrants are well signalized and easy to be recognized by everybody. They are well maintained and they are checked periodically to ensure that they are functioning properly.

Lastly, the community has a high safety culture and they have a strong proactive approach to safety, indeed they put a lot of effort in risk reduction. Rockledge fire department has a full time fire prevention division with full time employees located in each of the three stations on the territory. The full equipped training facility described above hosts annual fire drills and exercise focused on fire prevention activities. Fire inspections are regularly conducted through all county and fire investigations and fire codes are strictly enforced. The PCC score for this section is 5 out of 5.

Rockledge is a small community just minutes away from the Atlantic Ocean that wet the East Coast of Florida. More than half of the citizens in my community are retired workers that moved in the sunshine state form the northern states of USA. They are very concerned about public safety and they support fire department and law enforcement. That is why the fire department in Rockledge is structured and staffed very well so in fire suppression than in fire prevention prevention. The communication system is more than sufficient to ensure a quick response to accidents and the water supply is well distributed along all territory. My visit at the fire department was very instructive and since then, I feel much safer in my house.