BCFD turning over hydrant maintenance to water companies

December 21, 2018 GMT

BULLHEAD CITY — The Bullhead City Fire Department should soon be getting out of the fire hydrant business.

Assistant Fire Chief Scott Neal told the fire district’s governing board Tuesday that department administrators have drafted letters of understanding for EPCOR Water and Bermuda Water Co.

Those companies will take over flushing, testing and maintenance of hydrants within the fire district’s boundaries, Neal said.

“I believe EPCOR and Bermuda are very capable entities to do this work,” he told board members. “And there’s really no need for the district to be involved in it anymore.”

Board member Ralph Mauzy said administrators have “done a wonderful job” of moving hydrant responsibilities to where he feels they properly belong. Neal said after the meeting that he believed the BCFD was the only fire district in Arizona that still conducts hydrant maintenance.

Neal said the BCFD spends more than $120,000 a year on equipment, services and staffing related to hydrant operation. He said the employee charged with hydrant operation will move into the department’s maintenance shop.

He said the department plans to surplus out equipment related to hydrant maintenance.

The personnel move, Neal said, will improve operations in the maintenance shop. Having three full-time mechanics, he said, will reduce the amount of time that the BCFD has only one mechanic in the shop, and allow closer adherence to service schedules.

Safety concerns prevent a mechanic from doing certain heavy work while no one else is present, Neal said.

Neal said mechanics also are working on attaining industry certifications from the EVT Certification Commission, Inc. and SAE International. The full regimen includes about 30 tests, he said, and it would take five to seven years to earn full certification.

“Continuous improvement is the goal,” Neal told board members. “But it’s not quick. Be patient with these guys. They have to work all this in around their duties.”

Also at the meeting, the board approved the

purchase of five extractors — special washing machines designed to pull toxins out of firefighters’ turnout gear.

Approved was $73,600.87 for the extractors and up to $35,000 for installation.

The board also approved spending $203,729 for 76 sets of turnout gear, including jackets, pants and new hoods.

Fire Chief Patrick Moore said each crew member now will have a second set of turnouts.

“We’ve taken significant steps in the last few months to improve the safety of our personnel,” Moore said.

He later cited new self-contained breathing apparatus, vehicle exhaust-removal systems and increased radio communications as part of that assessment.

“When you factor in all those components, it’s a safer, better workforce environment for our people,” Moore said.

Much of the new purchases were made through a $16.7 million bond issue approved by fire district voters last year. Moore commended fire department staff for their work on researching the items and the community for supporting the bond package.

He said the BCFD processed 14 applications for two open firefighter positions and has chosen eight to go on to the next round of testing. Those positions could be filled this year, he said, and qualified candidates who are not hired could go onto a waiting list.

Moore said that Capt. Marvin McCabe has agreed to stay on as interim training division chief through July 1, allowing the department to meet other hiring and training needs until a permanent replacement can be found.

Former Training Division Chief Joshua Livermore transferred to battalion chief when Bill Kinsey retired this spring.