Thanks to the passage of a levy, the Delaware Fire Department has added stations, equipment and personnel, Fire Chief John Donahue told city council last week.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been two-and-a-half years since our fire levy passed on Nov. 2, 2010,” Donahue told council. “A lot has been going on since then.”
Donahue said the fire department had four objectives if the levy passed: Adding 18 new positions, building Station 303, replacing aging equipment and building Station 304. In his update to council, Donahue reported progress on all fronts.
According to the city, residents voted in 2010 to increase the city’s income tax rate from 1.55 to 1.85 percent to additionally fund fire and EMS services.
“Ours is a permanent levy. There’s no renewals,” Donahue said after the meeting.
“On Nov. 2, 2010, we had a total of 44 people within our department,” Donahue said. “Today, we have built our personnel up to 52 people, and we’re in the process of hiring seven additional personnel prior to July 6.”
Donahue said the department is also considering adding part-time staff, having an officer in each station on every shift, and having more personnel working when the most calls are made.
The city’s third fire station, currently under construction in the northwest quadrant at 1320 W. Central Ave., is 40 percent complete, Donahue said.
“It actually looks like a fire station right now,” he said. “I think it’s a beautiful station. It’s actually going to be the smallest fire station, but it’s really going to fit in extremely nice with that community.”
The fire department’s two existing stations are main Station 301 at 99 S. Liberty St., and Station 302 at 683 Pittsburgh Drive. Donahue said a fourth building, Station 304, is planned for future use at 821 Cheshire Road.
“We have purchased that piece of property, that’s going to be a small satellite station. Obviously, we’ve looked at renovating that ranch-style house that we have purchased, and that’s our plan for growth.”
By having a station in each quadrant of the city and more staff, the department hopes to reduce response times.
Donahue said the department has replaced aging equipment and apparatus. He said the new fire engine went into service on April 22. It complements a new ladder truck ordered in 2011 that has “been a complete asset to us.” In addition, a new paramedic unit went into service last fall, and former police vehicles have been converted to staff use.
EMS Coordinator Capt. Alan Matteson said new cardiac monitors will be placed in service this summer, and the department has also purchased “state-of-the-art” automated external defibrillator “for our stations, staff cars and fire trucks.”
In partnership with the Council for Older Adults, the fire department has placed Marilyn Adams as a service coordinator in Station 301.
Adams said her job is “to reduce non-emergency 9-1-1 calls. There are a number of reasons people call 9-1-1, and they’re not always emergencies.”
Donahue said senior citizens sometimes call 9-1-1 when they need assistance and aren’t sure who to call. Adams said she may be able to refer those people to services such as Meals On Wheels, housekeeping and personal care.
“We’re really pleased to have this partnership to provide support and service to first-responders and to help individuals that aren’t aware of our services,” said Fara Waugh, associate director of client services for COA. “We’re looking at proceeding with this program all over the county.”
“We know we have an aging community, and we want to make sure they stay here and be able to live the life that they want,” Donahue said.
Delaware’s newest firehouse, Station 303 is under construction at 1320 W. Central Ave., funded by a levy passed in 2010. (FOR THE GAZETTE | DEBORAH E. EVANS)[/caption]