During 2018, the Fire Administration Division provides management, research, clerical, financial, and records support for the Fire Department.
Fire Prevention Division
The Fire Prevention Division has responsibility for enforcing local, state and federal codes in order to reduce the loss of life and property from preventable fires and other emergencies. This is accomplished through inspection and code enforcement, plan review, public education and fire investigative services. The Fire Prevention Division maintains a list of Sara Title III properties throughout the town in accordance with the Emergency Planning & Community Right-to-Know-Act (EPCRA). During FY 17-18 the Fire Department collected $1,069,772 in fees through the building permit process. This fee is directly attributable to the plan review process and multiple inspections involved during the building and remodeling process.
Fire inspections of properties occur every 1-4 years depending on the occupancy type and other hazards. With over 2600 occupancies to inspect in North Haven, fire inspections occur every day resulting in the documentation of violations and working with the property owner or tenant to resolve the issues. A majority of the time property owners and tenants seek compliance; however, there are times when legal action must be taken and in some cases criminal prosecution is pursued. Ultimately the Town of North Haven has a ministerial responsibility to conduct required inspections and with a fire inspector now solely assigned to this role the legal exposure for the town has been significantly reduced while also making the properties safer for the occupants and responding firefighters.
Emergency Response Division
The North Haven Fire Department currently operates out of four fire stations throughout the town. Headquarters located in the center of town is staffed by career firefighters and the remaining three fire stations are exclusively volunteer fire stations. Headquarters personnel staff an advanced life support (ALS) rescue, a basic life support (BLS) engine and a (BLS) ladder at all times supplemented by six engines provided by volunteer firefighters. Three staffed apparatus respond from fire headquarters today just as in 1974.
During 2018 the North Haven Fire Department responded to the highest number of incidents in the history of the department at 4,670 calls for service. An illustration is included which depicts the increase in call volume. During 2009/2010 the call volume in North Haven reached a point in which the number of incidents was exceeding the amount of available resources resulting in the elimination of specific incident types which were determined to be non-emergent. A call for service means somebody is in distress and/or a fire or rescue incident is actively occurring. One apparatus may respond or several may respond depending on the nature and location of the incident. Regardless of the number of the apparatus or personnel which respond, this only counts as one incident number. We don’t count a phone call, visitor to the FD, fire marshal inspections or investigations as well as public relations as an incident number, if we did our call volume would be in the tens of thousands. During 2018 62% of our call volume was EMS related, 31% were fire incidents and 7% motor vehicle accidents. During 2018, 26% of all incidents occurred simultaneously as one another which means multiple fire and EMS incidents occurring at the same time.
Volunteer Firefighter Recruitment
The North Haven Fire Department continues to recruit volunteer firefighters expanding beyond a recruitment hotline established during 2016 for any interested individuals. For additional information on volunteering, please call 203-239-5321 Ext 140. Over the last 10-15 years the number of volunteer firefighters within North Haven has declined from approximately 105 to 45. This decline is consistent with national and regional trends due to a variety of factors which include dual income households, individuals working multiple jobs, employers no longer allowing employees to leave work for fire incidents and increased training requirements. Refer to the illustration which depicts the number of career staff and volunteer firefighters since 1974.
During July of 2017, the third administrative position which had been eliminated in 1991 was reinstated which resulted in the position of a Deputy Chief of Operations. During 2018, the individual promoted to this position continued to work diligently to standardize training within the fire department which had been lacking for 26 years. Additional training of personnel will retain volunteer firefighters, positively impact our ISO scoring, improve fire scene safety and expand upon our services.
Planning is underway to convert the former Temple Pines Park to the North Haven Fire Department Training Center. We are currently in the design phase and working to resurrect a 4-5 story training tower while will further diversify the training opportunities available to the fire department. Development of this site will also create a future cost savings by allowing firefighters to train while in town and in service vs. having to travel out of town.
The North Haven Fire Department shares statistical information with the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) allowing for incident analysis reports to be readily available. Of interest are the frequency of fire and EMS incidents occurring by the day of week within the Town of North Haven which were: Sunday, (12.07%), Monday (14.70%), Tuesday (16.33%), Wednesday (14.10%), Thursday (14.51%), Friday (15.16%) and Saturday (13.10%). The busiest time periods were from 7:00am to 9:00pm with at least one fire unit arriving on scene to all incidents within 7 minutes 76% of the time. In terms of where fire and EMS incidents occur, 55% of incidents occur within residential occupancies, 13% outside which include streets, roads and highways, 16% at healthcare facilities and physician offices, and 5% at mercantile establishments with the remaining percentage of calls occurring at schools, manufacturing facilities, etc.