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A new way to do an old but very important task

By: Peter Gilbert
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The other day I was with a group of residents and as a result of our discussions, I want to share some information I discovered that surprised me. They were not aware of what you are about to read.

Several years ago, I approached the city manager and acting fire chief about a concept that I ran across doing some research.  Let me share the situation with you.

We have three modern fully-functioning fire stations.  However, because of budget restraints and how we deployed our staff, we were faced with closing one or more stations when the quantity of fire personnel was not available to staff properly. When an officer was sick, when we could not fully staff a station, we closed that station and moved the fire personnel to a second station.

When one station is closed, the people and property served by that unit have very long response times. A small fire becomes big, more complex and property loss goes wild.  Lives may be at further risk. Time is of the essence.

In the case of a person who stops breathing, brain damage may occur ... they may die in the worst case if they do not get life-saving efforts earlier than later.  We also know that structure fires are few and far between. In the recent past, less than one per month is the norm. But our fire service responds to thousands of calls per year. A big percentage is medical in nature.

So should we allow any fire station to close under normal circumstances or is there a better way?  Or should we follow the lead of others and adjust to the reality of today's fire service challenge:  Fire personnel have as their primary duty to save lives followed by saving property. The answer is obviously lives.

The acting fire chief and city manager supported my suggestion that we adopt the plan to have less personnel in each fire station but all fire stations open at all times. Results: a drop in our response time, allowing us to save lives and serious brain damage. And when we get a structure fire we can send a second unit to assist. Structure fires happen on average of less than once each month.  Remember that in some cases, the first unit will get to the scene faster if we have three houses functional all the time. 

The City Council liked the concept and we adopted the plan. What are lives worth? We are all getting the benefits of this important change.  When you drive around our town and see one of our fire stations, remember the fact that if you or I need professional help, it is just that much closer then it was a few years ago. We have an outstanding fire service. I hope you don’t need their very professional assistance. But if you do, they are just that much closer to you.

And now for a few words on a lighter note

Late last month, William Jessup opened their 2017 baseball season in Lincoln. They play their home games at McBean Park. Several folks desire much credit for this return of baseball to Lincoln.  The friends of McBean, our Park and Recreation Department, the staff at William Jessup University, our City Manager Matt Brower and his staff, our Park and Recreation committee, lots of volunteers and many more individuals made the day and the full season before us very promising. 

From the opening ceremonies to the first pitch, everything was great and well executed.  It made me proud to get thanks from the Jessup team leadership and the administration when they thanked our town for a job well done. And when the players did the same, I knew we had a winner!  This June, our Lincoln Potters will be born again and our town will have baseball from January until August. Wow!

Peter Gilbert is the Lincoln mayor.