Canby Fire offers council look at strategic plan
Canby Fire Chief Jim Davis said he was proud to announce that the district achieved three years-worth of work in just two years, and the new, updated strategic plan represents CFD's roadmap through 2020.
Matt Dale, Canby Fire's division chief, said the plan highlights some interesting facts that the public, and the city council, may not realize about the fire department's efforts.
The Canby Fire District's service area encompasses 56 square miles — north from the Willamette River and south to Barnard's Road; east from "a little past" South End Road and West to just beyond Barlow Road, Dale said.
In 2016, Canby Fire responded to 2,461 calls, or 7.2 alarms on average per 24-hour shift. That call volume ranks Canby Fire as the third-busiest district in Clackamas County. A majority of those calls came from within Canby's "urban zone," or the Canby city limits, and the bulk of those calls, as is true every year, are for medical emergencies, Dale said.
"One of the problems we recognized several years ago is that Canby Fire gets two or more calls at the same time," Dale said. "We found we responded well to the first call, the second call not so well and the third and fourth calls we had difficulty responding to. Voters approved an increase in our (tax) levy in November 2016 and we were able to add two additional firefighter-paramedics with a daytime ambulance. That helped us mitigate three, four or more active calls so we can respond better. (The levy) also decreased the amount of times we needed to wake up volunteers at night — volunteers largely are at work during the day and we rely on them heavily to respond at night."
Dale said the majority of emergency medical calls are ground-level falls, people who are sick, or people who are complaining of chest pains or breathing problems.
Canby Fire also improved its response time to in-city calls, suburban locations and rural areas. CFD's goal is to respond to in-city calls in eight minutes or less, 12 minutes or less to suburban locations and 20 minutes or less in rural areas.
The strategic plans shows the district improved on those times from 2014-2016, responding in eight minutes or less to in-city calls 95 percent of the time in 2016 compared to 83 percent of the time in 2014; 12 minutes or less to suburban locations 97 percent of the time in 2016 compared to 78 percent of the time in 2014; and 20 minutes or less to rural areas 92 percent of the time in 2016 compared to 87 percent of the time in 2014.
Incidentally, Canby Fire was able to transport stroke and trauma patients in less than 10 minutes from the moment responders arrived on scene.
John Campbell, director of training, planning and assessment for Portland-based Campbell DeLong Resources, Inc., the company that consulted with CFD to complete the strategic plan, told the city council his firm works with many emergency response departments in Oregon and that Canby Fire's performance is exemplary.
"Most departments in the state are not delivering like you guys are," Campbell said. "In a multiple-call situation, and we've worked with many fire districts, and the Canby Fire District is the first one to meet the standard of arriving (to in-city calls) in eight minutes or less. I'm sure other fire districts in the country accomplish that but Canby Fire is the only one we're aware of. In our office when we saw those numbers we were pretty impressed. It's not something you should take for granted at all."
The plan shows that Canby Fire's Insurance Service Office (ISO) protecting rating — a statistical analysis, ranging from 10-1 with one being the best, of risk that directly impacts insurance premiums paid by homeowners — decreased from a five to a two in areas near a fire hydrant and from an eight to a three in rural areas.
The average annual property loss rate shows Canby Fire's five-year median value-to-loss ratio is $595,000 compared to $25 million in value for a loss rate of 2.4 percent. Additionally, there have been just two deaths as a result of fire within the Canby Fire District during the last 24 years.
Other major accomplishments included filling all three, 24-hour shifts with five firefighter-paramedics each day, reducing the number of full time fire chiefs from four to three, adding three student firefighters to the fire station on Highway 170, increasing the ranks to include 30 volunteers, initiating a community paramedics program for community risk reduction, and setting up and drilling a city emergency operation center and training with the city and the Canby School District, Dale said.
The strategic plan also outlines CFD's objective of looking into opening an EMS station on the north side of town so they can respond to calls on the north side of the railroad tracks quicker without concern for being delayed by a train rolling through town. Incidentally, Dale said delays from trains only occurred twice during the last year, and the longer delay of the two was one-and-a-half minutes.
Canby Fire also is looking into relocating the fire station on Highway 170 further south toward Barnard's road to improve on rural response times and effectiveness, as well as increasing access to rural water supplies.
Mayor Brian Hodson said that during the last couple of years, Canby Fire has demonstrated a tremendous shift and push to improving overall operations.
"The decrease in response time has been impressive," Hodson said. "I know you guys have been working on that … to see actual numbers is tremendous. I don't know how you guys can improve even more on that, but if you can just stay on that level it's a huge accomplishment."
To read the Canby Fire District's 2017 Strategic Plan visit Canby Fire's website at canbyfire.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/CanbyStratPlan2017_Final_6_0.pdf