Rockford City Manager Michael Young announced the Rockford Police and Fire departments will merge and become Rockford Department of Public Safety beginning January 1, 2012. Young will act as the Director of Public Safety during the transition with current Police Chief Dave Jones and Mike Reus handling the daily operations of their respective divisions. “We have studied this issue for some time and believe by cross-training our employees we can take advantage of existing resources to enhance our capabilities,” said Young. “This is exactly what we did several years ago when we cross-trained our Department of Public Services employees to be trained firefighters. I feel that this consolidation will make our public safety functions more efficient while saving money with an actual increase in service to the community. We are feeling enormous financial pressure to look at all aspects of our operations differently and this is sound public policy for a community such as ours.” The first phase of the public safety merger will involve cross-training the police officers with fire training. Five members of the Police Department, including Chief Jones, will attend a Fire Training Academy located in Big Rapids beginning in January of 2012. Chief Jones stated, “I am looking forward to the training and the new challenges ahead.” Jones said he and his department have fully embraced the idea of a Public Safety Department. “In our current economy, anything we can do to become more efficient will ultimately result in financial sustainability.” Upon completion of the fire training in January, all full-time police officers will be qualified to provide traditional police, fire and medical response services. Rockford’s part-time police officers will receive medical training to prepare the Police Department for the final transition to public safety in January of 2013. “The twelve-month transition period will allow the Department to make critical adjustments while developing the most efficient public safety model for the City,” said Young. Fire Chief Mike Reus agrees with the ambitious plan. “We owe it to o ur residents to explore any options that will improve services in the City of Rockford,” he said.
Rockford Fire Chief Mike Reus
Rockford Fire Chief Mike Reus said that, annually, residents contact him after receiving phone calls soliciting donations or selling tickets claiming to be fundraising for the Rockford Fire Department. “We do not call and solicit from residents,” Reus stated. He said callers claim to be Rockford firefighters and either solicit donations or ask residents to buy tickets to a concert. “This seems to be the time of year this happens, and already we have had several people call and ask if this is a legitimate fundraiser for Rockford Fire Department. It is not.” Residents who have further questions for the fire department are always welcome to call (616) 866-1553.
GOOD CITIZEN—Jordyn Thompson, 11, a soon-to-be fifth-grade student at Chandler Woods Charter Academy is pictured with Rockford Fire Chief Mike Reus. Thompson attended the regular Rockford City Council meeting on Monday, August 10, as part of his requirements to earn a Boy Scout merit badge for citizenship. Reus was showing Thompson the City’s newest fire truck, which had been delivered that day and will be in service this week.
Donation of home allows firefighters to prepare by BETH ALTENA The loss of a Main Street home is the gain of a valuable resource in practice that local firefighters hope they will never need to use. Rockford City Council voted in January to accept a quit-claim deed for the unoccupied home at 138 North Main Street owned by Pederson Funeral Home. The home is currently deeded to the city and is being used by the Rockford Fire Department, other fire departments and local law enforcement agencies for valuable training. The temporary change of ownership is for liability reasons and the structure will be deeded back to the owner when demolition is scheduled. According to Rockford Fire Chief Mike Reus, the use of the property allows the department an opportunity for priceless training that could save a life. “The fire department is running in when everyone else is running out,” he stated. Firefighters, although trained in a vast variety of practices and skills, are traditionally the ones offering, rather than receiving assistance. “When one of us runs into trouble, it’s hard to ask for help,” Reus said. The first practice in the home took place on Wednesday, January 28 with a “Mayday” scenario to build skills in what to do when things go wrong. The firemen faced a variety of scenarios in the unheated, unlighted home. Working from three stations one at a time, they practiced procedure for collapse of a ceiling, becoming trapped in a room and becoming tangled in debris. In each case firefighters had to gauge how long to try to free themselves before calling for help. According to Reus, this is a vital distinction and one of the harder concepts to realize in a dangerous situation, Firefighters carry in Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) with 30 minutes of air. If a rescue worker becomes panicked and starts to breath heavily, the air is used much more quickly. “The clock starts ticking at the door before they go in,” Reus notes. If a disaster happens after 15 minutes in a structure, a rescue needs to start quickly in order to get the trapped or injured firefighter out before the last 15 minutes worth of air is gone. According to Reus, the techniques and […]