Golden Valley Fire Department Duty Crews
Since 1943, the Golden Valley Fire Department has operated as a paid, on-call department. What does that mean? According to Chief John Crelly, “It means that our firefighters are coming from home or they’re coming from work when their pager activates.” But now, the department is switching to a staffing model that uses a scheduled four-person duty crew. That will help firefighters arrive on-scene more quickly. Crelly says, “We’ll have four firefighters in the station, ready to go when the pager goes off, and they will respond immediately to go help and serve the city of Golden Valley. By having the duty crew on, I can put a truck in front of anybody’s house or business approximately five or six minutes earlier.” Golden Valley Firefighter Rich Alme adds, “It’s professional. We’re not racing up from dinner and running down here and jumping in a truck and going somewhere. We’re ready. We’re in uniform. We’re ready to take on more medical calls which is a big part of the job.” Using duty crews not only benefits the Golden Valley community. It improves the work-life balance for the firefighters themselves, as Firefighter Jennifer Chen says, “With this day and age, a lot of people are working multiple jobs. A lot of houses have to be dual-income. And with children in the families, it’s really difficult for one person to just drop everything and leave. With the duty crew model, we’re getting a lot less home interruption during the hours that the duty crew is on shift, and we’re able to choose, of the scheduled shifts available, which shifts work best for our schedules.” Alme adds, “There’s camaraderie. There’s team-building and we get to train together and work together.” The department has already started staffing its stations during the weekdays and evenings using duty crews. The plan is to add weekend hours in 2023 and overnight hours in 2024. That will require sleeping quarters in the stations. After completing a facilities study, the city of Golden Valley is prioritizing two new fire stations that would replace the existing three. Chief Crelly says, “We know that our facilities are aging. We know that they’re not set up ideally for a scheduled duty crew model. We know that our stations have challenges that we need to address.” Since the current stations were built, fire trucks have gotten larger, more gear is required, and there’s more attention given to firefighters’ health and safety. Crelly goes on to say, “So one of the things as we talk about new facilities is that we’re going to address things like that. The safety concerns with vehicle movements and people. We’re going to deal with the cancer concerns, have clean areas and areas that have contaminated gear and things like that, so we’re going to make that better, better ventilation systems. All these are big moves in the right direction.” For more information about the Golden Valley Fire Department, go to http://www.goldenvalleymn.gov/fire.