Mallory Herrmann

The Lee’s Summit Fire Department presented their annual accreditation report to the city council this week. Chief Rick Poeschl and Captain Darrel Clowes shared response-time data, benchmarks assessments and the challenges the department is facing.

The presentation is a requirement of CFAI (Council of Fire Accreditation International) to report service gaps to city staff and the governing body in order to find collaborative solutions. It’s sparking bigger conversations about how the city can plan for future growth and where stations and staff will be needed.

While the department has continued improving their response times to low-risk EMS incidents, more severe incidents have average response times well outside the recommended benchmark. Low-risk responses have continued falling from a high in 2016 of 10:57 to 9:47 year-to-date in 2018. The 2018 rate now falls below the 10-minute benchmark. These times are the ninetieth percentile response rates.

“That’s a tremendous success,” Clowes said.

But response times for moderate-risk EMS and rescues are 14:14 and 19:45, respectively. While the department has made great strides in lowering those times (moderate-risk rescue responses took nearly twice as long as the recommended benchmark of 10:20 in 2016, at 21:27).

Clowes says the department’s primary issues are a result of capacity, rather than performance. He noted that in the ISO analysis, they were penalized for only having two ladder trucks (and no ladder trucks at all on reserve), which is a concern given the size of the population that they serve. The Lee’s Summit Fire Department also serves Greenwood and Unity Village, bringing their total service area to more than 103,000 residents in 2017.

While a lot of the foreseen needs are part of long-term plans, Poeschl outlined the four highest priorities: new rescue (and associated staffing) for Station 3; additional administrative staff to support the department’s missions; new station and staffing on the north side of the city; and a rebuild for Stations 4 and 5. They also described upgrades needed for additional stations, including for ADA compliance and to accommodate a growing number of female staff.

No action was taken by the council, though there was consensus that more long-term planning should take place in conjunction with the city’s master planning activities.

Councilmembers Trish Carlyle and Craig Faith were absent from the Dec. 11 session.