How is the Muscatine Fire Department Staffed?

Muscatine Fire DepartmentA few weeks ago, I had a nice time touring the Muscatine Fire Department and learning more about how the department works. Now, I’m going to give you a more in-depth look at how the Fire Department organizes itself in order to protect and care for Muscatine’s citizens. Today, I will tell you about staffing and the procedures in place to assure that Fire and EMS services are carried out safely and effectively.

The Fire Department is a 37 uniformed member department. This includes a Fire Chief and an Assistant Chief who each work a 40 hour per week schedule and 35 members who each work a 56 hour work week on 24 hour shifts.

There are three different shift rotations that 35 members of the Fire Department work within – Blue, Green and Red shifts. Two shifts have 12 personnel and one shift has 11. I’m going to break down the shift process and explain how it works. Each shift works every other day over a 5 day period (meaning they work 3 out of 5 days), followed by four days off before repeating the cycle. So, say Blue shift started Monday, they’d be off Tuesday, work Wednesday, be off Thursday, work Friday, then have Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday off before they started the rotation over again on Wednesday.

Here it is again in list form:

  • Monday – work
  • Tuesday – off
  • Wednesday – work
  • Thursday – off
  • Friday – work
  • Saturday – off
  • Sunday – off
  • Monday – off
  • Tuesday – off

Keep in mind that while firefighters do have days off in between their work shifts, after working a 24 hour shift, they likely need to rest and recover from the work.

The Fire Department also has two members of civilian support staff: a full-time ambulance billing manager and a part-time office coordinator.

Muscatine has two staffed fire stations strategically located in our community to maximize coverage and response times. When I toured both facilities, I appreciated hearing about why they chose the locations and how they determined which equipment would be kept in each one. Fire Department

The Public Safety Building (PSB), located at 312 E 5th St., is the main fire station. It has a minimum of 7 and a maximum of 10 personnel staffing ambulances, an engine and an aerial ladder. Station #2, located at 2124 Stewart Rd., is staffed with two personnel and houses an ambulance, engine and the Haz Mat vehicle. The City of Muscatine requires that there be at least 9 firefighters working at all times.

When a shift is fully staffed, the PSB will staff the following vehicles: 3-4 members (depending on which shift) on Engine 311, 2 on Ambulance 351, 2 on Ambulance 352 and Truck 310 (aerial ladder), and 2 on Ambulance 353. In total, with fully staffed circumstances, the PSB would have 9 or 10 members of the Fire Department ready and assigned to the various response vehicles.

Station #2 is always staffed with two members no matter what the daily staffing at the PSB is for the shift. This means that even if the numbers at the PSB begin to dwindle, there will always be two members of the Fire Department working out of Station #2. These two staff members are responsible for three vehicles: an engine, an ambulance and the Haz Mat vehicle. Based on the needs expressed in the call for service, the firefighters at Station #2 will use the vehicle that is necessary for that response.

As I learned more about the process of staffing and responding to calls, I was impressed with the emphasis the Fire Department places on protocol and following procedure. They always have plans in place for backup in the event they need more help. For example, Station #2 only has two members staffed there at a time because based on call volume it makes sense to have the majority of the fire fighters on duty at the PSB. Station #2 only averages 12% of calls, while PSB averages 72% plus 16% for the East Hill area (which is the area for the future third station). However, even if the two personnel at Station #2 go out on a call that does not mean the station is closed, but that they are out working and doing their job. Backup from PSB or other communities with mutual aid or auto aid help to fulfill the needs if other calls arise.

The Muscatine Fire Department has an auto aid agreement for structure fires with Fruitland, which means that at the 1st alarm Fruitland’s firefighters will respond. The 2nd and 3rd alarms will send out aid requests to those who are mutual aid partners for structure fires. On the 2nd alarm, Wilton’s firefighters and 10 off-duty Muscatine firefighters will be notified. On the 3rd alarm, West Liberty’s firefighters and all off-duty personnel for Muscatine will get the signal.

Muscatine Fire DepartmentChief Ewers explained to me that they do have a plan in place if their resources are already out on other calls, dropping the number of fire fighters on a shift to fewer than nine (as is the City’s requirement for staffing). The numbers may drop under nine for a variety of reasons, such as vacation, sick time, funeral leave or due to a two person ambulance crew taking an inter-facility transport to another community. In these cases, off-duty members are issued a call that they may come in to work for overtime to maintain the required nine personnel. Part-time ambulance attendants are also utilized for inter-facility transports, but they cannot perform firefighting functions. In 2014, the average amount of overtime worked by a firefighter was 155 hours for the year.

Occasionally, the number of personnel on duty drops below nine due to calls for service, inter-facility transports by ambulances or the inability to fill overtime slots. In these cases, the Fire Department makes every attempt to fill those slots in a timely manner and has plans in place to continue meeting the community’s needs. It is obviously not an ideal situation when there are fewer than nine firefighters on duty, but those times are not the norm. This only happens occasionally. The City of Muscatine is never without a plan in place to adequately fight fires. Chief Ewers and the rest of the team work hard each day to ensure safety for Muscatine.

So, that’s what I’ve got for your about the Muscatine Fire Department and the way they handle staffing. I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit more about how this crucial department works.

Coming next in this series about the Fire Department will be:

Part 2: Information about the SAFER Grant and how it can help fund the hiring of more firefighters

Part 3: OSHA Respiratory Protection and procedures the Muscatine Fire Department adheres to in fighting structure fires

Part 4: An overview of the Muscatine Fire Department’s auto aid and mutual aid agreements with neighboring communities

Be watching for more information about the Fire Department!

Students from Ichikawamisato, Japan Visit City Hall

On Thursday, July 30, Mayor Hopkins had the pleasure of giving a tour of City Hall to a group of students and their chaperones from Ichikawa Junior High School in Ichikawamisato, Japan. Ichikawamisato is one of Muscatine’s seven current Sister Cities. Muscatine and Ichikawamisato’s official sister city relationship goes back to 1990, meaning that this year is the 25th anniversary.

Muscatine Ichikawamisato

Mayor Hopkins began the tour by telling the students a little bit about what he does as mayor. He showed them his office and then guided them to meet with Finance Director Nancy Lueck and Community Development Director David Gobin. Both Nancy and David gave our guests an overview of their departments and discussed what they do for Muscatine.

Muscatine Ichikawamisato

Muscatine Ichikawamisato

The students had the opportunity to introduce themselves and ask questions. They were eager to learn more about Muscatine.

Muscatine Ichikawamisato

Principal Wataru Watai from Ichikawa Junior High School presented Mayor Hopkins with a poster highlighting the annual fireworks festival in Ichikawamisato. I can tell you from first-hand experience that the fireworks show they put on each year is incredible!

Muscatine Ichikawamisato

Over the years, there have been countless Muscatine students and families involved in the exchanges; each one is able to take from that experience a better understanding of another culture. The relationships that have been built can be long lasting.

Muscatine Ichikawamisato

The Ichikawa Junior High School students had a full agenda of touring Muscatine’s sites and getting to know their host families. Their stay was planned and coordinated by Jessica Blanchard, Julie Kundel and the rest of their team. Thank you to all involved in the Japanese visit. Building relationships in a people-to-people way is why we have sister cities relationships. It was wonderful to welcome our Japanese friends to City Hall!

What’s Goes On in Public Works?

Hello there!

It’s Emily Lofgren here with the City of Muscatine. I’m glad you’re taking the time to read more about the Public Works Department.

As I’ve toured the various departments within the City, I have enjoyed learning how each department plays a significant role in making things run smoothly in the community. The Public Works Department is the largest department with 70 employees split into 10 divisions and a $12 Million operational budget. It was one of the first departments I began to learn more about.

Muscatine Public Works
Sam Ravenscraft is a Vehicle Mechanic in the Vehicle Maintenance Division of Public Works. He spends his time making sure the vehicles in the department run smoothly.

Some of the Public Works divisions and functions include:

  • Building and Grounds – Maintaining the many public buildings and grounds visited daily by Muscatine residents and the business community
  • Engineering – Managing and designing projects and participating in strategic planning for the community’s future
  • Equipment Services – Ensuring more than 250 pieces of motorized equipment and rolling stock are fleet ready daily
  • Public Transit – Offering public transportation to all of Muscatine’s citizens through the MuscaBus program
  • Roadway Maintenance – Designing, constructing and maintaining streets
  • Sewer Collection and Drainage – Providing a healthy and safe environment for the entire community by ensuring a functional sewer infrastructure
  • Solid Waste Operation – Collecting refuse and recycling daily, transporting it to the city’s transfer station and ultimately disposing of waste at the landfill

As you might recognize from this list of divisions and their functions, the Public Works Department deals with many areas of concern in the City that we may take for granted or never even think about. From maintaining roads, to planning for the future, to maintaining our sewer system, to collecting our garbage, the Public Works Department handles items that are crucial for everyday life in Muscatine.

Muscatine Public Works

When I first arrived at the location of Muscatine Public Works, I was welcomed into a meeting led by Public Works Director Randy Hill. I had the pleasure of being introduced to the managers of the department’s divisions and learning a little bit about what each division does.

We discussed the type of information that is necessary to convey to citizens of Muscatine. My job is to spread awareness about what the departments are doing and how those in the community are affected by it. We want you to know what’s going on, so that you can play an active role in decision making. So, part of that effort is to determine the best ways to get that information out.

Muscatine Public Works

After the meeting, Administrative Secretary Connie Mann gave me a tour of the facility. I was able to see where Public Works vehicles are repaired and maintained. Later, Connie gave me an overview of current Public Works projects. She was very helpful with answering any questions. I appreciated the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the department so that I can better share that information with you.

Once again, it was another educational tour in the books. Be looking for further updates on current Public Works projects.

Thank you for reading.

Mississippi Drive Corridor Vision and Project Kick-off Event

Here’s more information that will help you prepare for the Mississippi Drive Corridor Project Kick-off Event, which will be held on Sept. 1. The event will be a great opportunity to share your ideas for how to transform Mississippi Drive!

Gregg Mandsager

As we prepare for the September 1, 2015,  Kick-off of the Mississippi Drive Corridor Project, I wanted to pass on an educational piece that highlight’s the vision for transforming Mississippi Drive. This piece was put together after 30 city staff, business and property owners, health practitioners, regional planners and resident leaders came together under the direction of Dan Burden, national walkability expert, to begin to re-envision Mississippi Drive.

We identified what Muscatine currently lacks in the Mississippi Drive Corridor and found ways to potentially address those needs with changes to the built environment. Right now, we have an incredible opportunity to connect our downtown to the riverfront with this project. We can transform this corridor into a key focal piece for our community. Transforming Mississippi Drive will serve as a catalyst for economic development, community health, well-being and overall livability.

Please take a look at the Mississippi Drive vision piece…

View original post 47 more words

Save the Date: September 1 to be Mississippi Drive Corridor Project Kick-off

Save September 1 and plan to attend a kick-off event for the Mississippi Drive Corridor Project. The event will be held at the Muscatine Riverfront, with specific location and time information to be released soon.

What is the Mississippi Drive Corridor Project?

It is a proposal for reconstructing the 1.6 miles of U.S. 61-Business (pavement and curb/gutter). It also includes street lighting, landscaping, gateway features, pedestrian crossings, sidewalk improvements, traffic signals, geometric improvements, storm drainage improvements, and road embankment work intended to improve flood protection. The work will focus on four distinct areas adjoining Muscatine’s Central Business District.  The improvement segments include the HNI Campus Area, Downtown Area, High Sidewalk (Bluff) Area and the Carver Corner Area.

The City of Muscatine plans for this project to meet the objectives of Muscatine’s complete street policy by improving both Muscatine’s quality of life and image. This project will provide a safe and attractive environment for street users of all ages and abilities such as motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, mass transit, children, senior citizens, individuals with disabilities, freight carriers, emergency responders and adjacent land users. It will modernize U.S. 61-Business and will enhance aesthetics throughout the corridor that are consistent with Muscatine’s riverfront improvements.

Why should I attend the kick-off?

Attending the kick-off is a great way to learn more about the project and become engaged in the process. We want you to have the opportunity to take part in the Mississippi Drive Corridor transformation and this is a wonderful way to start. We’ll work together to identify community values to pursue a vision for the project. You will have the opportunity to look at maps and provide feedback as we take ideas to the drawing board. More details about the event will be released soon.

How do I prepare for the kick-off?

A good way to prepare for the Mississippi Drive Corridor Project Kick-off is to take a look at the following resource guide: Toward Health and Well-Being in Muscatine. The guide was created by Dan Burden as a resource to help show us the potential we have as a community. It highlights opportunities to transform transportation ways within the city to reap many benefits. Read through the guide and think about some of the ways we can utilize the concepts highlighted to create a new Mississippi Drive Corridor.

Update on Opening of the Muscatine Center

Last week, I wrote about Mayor Hopkins and his trip to China to take part in the opening ceremony of the Muscatine Center in the city of Jinan. In addition to Mayor and Jill Hopkins, five Muscatine area high school students and one teacher chaperone had the opportunity to attend the opening ceremony on July 17.

Students Katy Axel, Marci Clark, Grant Nollette, Zoey Petersen, and Alexa Santaniello and chaperone Angie Curtis are in China to attend Shanghai Camp, which is sponsored by the Shanghai People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries. The purpose of the summer camp is to bring international students to China to learn about China’s culture and to build relationships with students from other cultures. The five students from Muscatine will be the only students representing the United States at this year’s Shanghai Camp.

The photos of the Muscatine Center’s opening were provided by Marci Clark, who has been sending quick updates home.

Muscatine CenterMuscatine CenterMuscatine CenterMuscatine CenterMuscatine CenterMuscatine CenterMuscatine Center

Muscatine Fire Department Spends Summer Focusing on Training

Fire Department 1
Fire Fighters Cory Schaeckenbach and Colin Suiter demonstrate control of fire hose

Last Friday morning, after starting off by touring the Police Department, I moved on to learning about the Muscatine Fire Department. Fire Chief Jerry Ewers welcomed me by first providing a brief overview of the Department’s role in our community. We discussed some of the ways the Fire Department both informs and educates residents of Muscatine. He explained that not only do they share news about an event or holiday, but they try to turn everything into a teachable moment.

From fighting fires, to educating citizens on fire safety, to providing EMS services to Muscatine and some surrounding areas, the Muscatine Fire Department keeps a full schedule. Something people in Muscatine might not know is that the fire fighters work 24 hour shifts, 365 days a year. They work holidays. They have three shift groups with a scheduled rotation, so there is always a shift of fire fighters working.

Chief Ewers explained that during June, July and August of this year, the Fire Department is focusing on training every day.

“We want to go back to the fundamentals,” Ewers said.

Fire Department
Fire Fighter Colin Suiter removes hose from fire hydrant

With a wide array of experience levels represented in the Muscatine Fire Department, Chief Ewers saw the benefit of promoting training as a way to get everyone up to speed.

While on my tour of the Department, I was able to view the hallway of the Fire Station that highlights the history of the department. It was interesting to see photos from the past as well as view the wooden name plates of fire fighters who joined the Department each year. The name plates are set up as a timeline with years going from left to right with each fire fighter’s name who was hired in that year under the year’s plate. The visual representation of when each fire fighter was hired was neat to see.

I was also fortunate to tour the living quarters where fire fighters eat, sleep, cook and spend downtime. I enjoyed the behind the scenes look at what goes on in the Fire Department. Of course, it was exciting to see the iconic fire poles as well as view the fire trucks and EMS equipment.

After touring the Public Safety Building, I had the chance to visit the Southend fire station. This station was new in 2012 and has a lot of fantastic features. I was impressed with the design and the functionality of the building.

I had a great time getting to know the Muscatine Fire Department and I look forward to sharing more Fire Department stories with you in the future!

Fire Department
Fire Fighters Cory Schaeckenbach, Joe Vogel and Colin Suiter put away equipment

Muscatine Police Department Seeks to Build Relationships With Community

Muscatine Police Department
Officer Donyell Raisbeck has seen the benefit of relationship building as it pertains to her work on the police force

Hello, Muscatine!

As I said in the introduction post, I am spending time touring departments of the City to get a better feel for how business is done. My goal is to relay that information back to you. I want you to hear about the positive things happening in our great city and be informed about initiatives that affect you. I suppose you could say that my role serves as a bridge to connect the City to the people of the City, ensuring mutual understanding and discourse.

Last Friday morning started off with a trip to the Muscatine Public Safety Building to tour the Police Department. Police Chief Brett Talkington showed me the facility and explained more about the role of police officers in our community.

Right now, the Muscatine Police Department is gearing up for reaccreditation as assessors will be here July 20 through 22. Currently, they are one of only 10 accredited police departments within the state of Iowa. Accreditation is done by The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. This national accreditation agency sets a higher standard for police departments and Police Chief Talkington believes it is important to hold the Muscatine Police Department to that higher standard.

Not only does the Police Department take pride in carrying out general work with excellence, they strive to get to know the people they are protecting.

“Our big focus is building relationships with the community,” Police Chief Talkington said. “I want them to know who we are personally.”

The Police Department builds those relationships through a number of community outreach initiatives, including Coffee with a Cop, reading with children at the library, Shop with a Cop, and parking walks. Each police officer is required to do a parking walk everyday where they park their squad car and take a walk to interact with the people who are in their assigned area.

While I had previously heard about a few of those initiatives, I did not realize how much the Muscatine Police Department does outside the standard line of duty. For that matter, I actually knew little about a typical day in the life of a police officer. So much of what we think about police officers comes from what we see on TV or in movies. Our media consumption actually gives us false ideas about how police officers work.

To educate citizens on the reality of life as a police officer, the Muscatine Police Department has held a Citizens’ Police Academy once per year over the past several years. This year, the Police Department and Fire Department are teaming up to host a joint Citizens’ Academy where participants have the opportunity to learn about both departments. Planning is still in the works, but they will likely meet one evening per week for eight weeks. The Citizens’ Academy will take place in the fall. I will be sure to share more details as plans are secured.

Overall, I had a great trip to the Muscatine Police Department. It was great to learn more about what they are doing and how it affects the community. Next up is the Fire Department, so stay tuned!

Mayor Hopkins to Visit China for Opening of Muscatine Center

Muscatine Center 3
Glad Cheng and Daniel Wang of China Window Group LLC plan for the Muscatine Center

On Saturday, Mayor DeWayne Hopkins and his wife, Jill, will travel to China for 10 days to attend the opening of a Muscatine Center. Their trip will serve to strengthen the relationship between Muscatine and China. Glad Cheng and Daniel Wang of China Window Group LLC are opening a Muscatine Center in Jinan, China to encourage Chinese tourism to Muscatine.

When then Vice President (now President) Xi Jin Ping visited Muscatine for his second time in 2012, people in China had Muscatine fresh on their minds. Awareness increased as stories of Xi Jin Ping’s visit sparked interest among the Chinese. Since then, awareness has decreased and Glad and Daniel want to change that.

Glad and Daniel hope to build two or three more Muscatine Centers within China to further their endeavor.

Mayor Hopkins said the Muscatine Center will feature displays highlighting Muscatine’s industry of the past and present.

“[The Muscatine Center] will be very similar to the History and Industry Center in Muscatine,” Hopkins said.

Muscatine Center
Construction of the Muscatine Center

Glad and Daniel have a vested interest in encouraging Muscatine tourism as they are investors in the Merrill Hotel and Conference Center project. They also recently purchased the Marie Lindsay building.

Mayor and Jill Hopkins will have a full schedule of meetings and tours while they are in China, but Hopkins said he is most looking forward to seeing Mayor Yang of Zhengding. Mayor Hopkins first had the pleasure of meeting Mayor Yang during the fall of 2012 when Muscatine Sister Cities took a trip to Zhengding, China to sign the initial friendship agreement between the two cities.

Muscatine Center 2
Construction of the Muscatine Center

Mayor Hopkins is optimistic about the future of the Muscatine/China relationship.

“I think anything and everything we do will help our relationship move forward,” Hopkins said. “This [trip] will just be one step in the right direction.”

Blog Launch

CityofMuscatineHello, Citizens and Friends of Muscatine!

Thank you for stopping by the City of Muscatine blog. We’re launching this blog with the intent of keeping you informed about the happenings within the City of Muscatine. Each department within the City plays a vital role in shaping the quality of life for citizens. We hope to engage with you as we remain committed to communicating timely, relevant information about initiatives within our community.

As this post is about introductions, I’d like to introduce myself. I’m Emily Lofgren and I was recently hired as Communications Manager. I’ll be the one writing most of the blog posts and sharing them on social media. A little about me: I was born and raised in Muscatine. After studying public relations at Drake University, I spent some time teaching in China. I have experience working in both the Iowa State House and State Senate as well as doing communications for a variety of organizations, including the Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

I’m excited for this new role and for the opportunity to share stories with you. Great things are happening within the City of Muscatine and I look forward to telling you all about them!

Over the next couple of weeks, as I meet with department heads, tour facilities and get up-to-date on all things City-related, I am bringing you along for the ride. I will share about what I learn in each department and tell you more about what our community has to offer.

Thanks for joining me! Stay tuned for more updates.