MOUNT VERNON — In the first of 10 scheduled department head presentations, Mount Vernon Fire Department Chief Shawn Christy meet with Mount Vernon City Council on Monday night to enlighten council members on the operations at the fire department.
Christy said the department employees 40 full-time employees with 10 firefighters, a captain and a lieutenant working 24-hour shifts followed by 48 hours off. These employees service the city of Mount Vernon as well as Clinton and Pleasant townships, the southern half of Morris Township, the Mount Vernon Developmental Center and the Knox County Airport.
Working with a $4 million annual budget, Christy said the vast majority of that money is delegated to payroll but he, and his staff, work diligently to bring in outside funds.
“I am a strong advocate of grants,” Christy said. “This year we’ve received $21,000 in grants. All of our grants are written internally, they are never contracted out. The more money we get from outside agencies, the less we need to ask for from the general fund.”
Calls to the department are up 5 percent over 2009, he said. More than 3,000 service calls have come into the department with 76 percent requiring emergency medical services.
In order to better service the public in the event of a structure fire, Christy said the department is in a four-year plan to gather critical information from fire hydrants such as rate of flow.
“We will be able to input this into our mobile data terminal and color code the hydrants to determine the best hydrants to use,” Christy said.
One advantage to this, he said, county fire departments responding with mutual aid will have access to the same data base allowing those firefighters to make the same critical, time-sensitive decisions. Access will also be available for commercial building floor plans that include gas and electric shutoffs and exits.
As the fire department is a “catch all” for community services, Christy said the best way to stay on top of any need that might arise is proper training.
“There are some incidents we do (on a regular basis) and some we don’t do. To stay proficient we have to be strong advocates for training,” he said.
He shared over five and a half pages of training sessions on-call firefighters have completed this year including farm equipment safety, physical fitness, hydrant flushing, patient immobilization and movement, pediatric trauma, elevator rescue, foam operations and many others.
Christy said he is very excited about the future of the department especially after council’s approval to purchase property on Sychar Road for a future east-side fire station.
Mount Vernon Police Chief Mike Merrillees will give a presentation to council on Sept. 27.