Part-Time Staffing Program

In 2013, the City of Alcoa Board of Commissioners granted permission for the City of Alcoa Fire Department (AFD) to formulate a 6-month pilot program for scheduling personnel. Beginning in January 2014, this program provided additional personnel needed to maintain the City’s ISO ratings and accreditation status.

Program Background

In March of 2013, after a lengthy evaluation by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI), the City of Alcoa Fire Department was granted accreditation status. The primary issue that arose from the accreditation process was staffing. The discussion encountered by the department during its CFAI hearings revolved around its Effective Response Force (ERF), relied on for years at structure fires. Prior to accreditation, the department maintained a minimum staffing of eight personnel on-duty, with the City of Maryville Fire Department (MFD) providing two personnel on automatic-aid designated structure fires. This initially placed ten on-duty personnel at the scene of a structure fire in a timely fashion. However, the CFAI expects 14 personnel for an ERF.

After returning from the CFAI accreditation hearings, Fire Chief Roger Robinson realized a means had to be found to add additional personnel or else face accreditation suspension when the first annual report was due in February 2014. City of Maryville Fire Chief Tony Crisp and Chief Robinson brainstormed creative ideas to reach a solution to the problem. They reached a decision to increase the automatic-aid agreement by two additional personnel bringing the total to 12 on-duty responders in Alcoa. Shortly thereafter, Maryville’s fire department was due for reaccreditation and found itself encountering the same staffing issues. It was then the two chiefs decided to try a joint venture, a pilot firefighter staffing program. This pilot program added one additional firefighter to Alcoa’s staff, and one to Maryville’s, 24/7, at a considerable cost savings. Currently, Alcoa has a minimum staff of nine on-duty personnel. Maryville provides four firefighters on auto-aid responses bringing Alcoa’s total ERF to 13 personnel and closer to meeting the National Fire Prevention Association’s requirement of a staff of 14 personnel for structure fires.

The pilot staffing program operated with one firefighter working at AFD, then off for three days prior to returning to the City of Maryville Fire Department for a 24-hour shift. It was such a success, the program transitioned into a part-time program with the pilot firefighters becoming part-time employees.

Goals Going Forward

The department’s goal is to hire three additional personnel before re-accreditation in 2018, continue the part-time staffing program, and to continue the automatic-aid program with MFD. Adding one additional personnel to each shift would bring the minimum staffing to ten on-duty personnel, 24/7.

Critical task activities continue to be prioritized to assure scene safety until the arrival of an adequate ERF. Adequate staffing is the CFAI’s primary concern for the City of Alcoa Fire Department.