Boone County Fire Protection District works to update policies

Friday, February 18, 2011 | 9:32 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Fourth-graders in 2011 require much different skills to survive than those in 1993.

At least, that's what the Boone County Fire Protection District is realizing as it updates its out-of-date policies.

New Fire District hires

The Fire District also recently filled five new paid positions at the end of 2010 and beginning of 2011. 

Danny Mueller, who previously trained volunteers, was hired as a training specialist. The size of the district necessitated that the Fire District add the new position, Olsen said. 

The life safety bureau hired Martina Pounds as a life safety specialist. Pounds helps coordinate the Survival Kids Program, among other duties. 

David Hanks was hired as the facilities maintenance specialist. Previously, the Fire District contracted out for maintenance work. 

Tammy Rounsavall, who comes from the Air Force, was hired as a logistics specialist. Rounsavall is responsible for maintaining large-equipment cash for Task Force One. 

Finally, Miranda Ickler was hired as an administrative assistant for the support services bureau.

Gale Blomenkamp, director of the Fire District's life safety bureau, has begun to rewrite and update the Survival Kids lesson plans. Survival Kids is a program that teaches fourth-grade students safety precautions. 

"Personal safety in 1992 and 1993 for a fourth-grader is a lot different than for a fourth-grader now," Blomenkamp said. "What we're trying to teach kids is how to recognize dangerous situations and what to do to avoid those situations." 

A policy committee, headed by Fire District board member Shelley Dometrorch and made up of the executive staff and bureau directors, began the process of updating the policies after Scott Olsen became chief of the Fire District.

"We took a very in-depth look at the Fire District after I became fire chief to see what things we needed to do to essentially make sure that we were doing things correctly, and one of the things that we were weak on was actual written policies that were approved by the board of directors," Olsen said. 

The committee has been modifying or rewriting old policies and will create some new standards from scratch. The committee started by examining personnel policies to address issues such as sick leave, vacation time and conflicts of interest. 

The Fire District is also working on improving operational policies for each bureau. The district has six bureaus: training, special operations, field operations, life safety, support services and administrative services. 

"Each bureau has certain responsibilities, so we're looking at all the policies for those bureaus, and then of course operation policies for essentially how we do business from a fire rescue, EMS and hazardous materials point of view," Olsen said.

To begin the rewriting process, each bureau director is evaluating their policies and proposing modifications or additions for the board to vote on. 

Olsen believes the policies will give the Fire District much-needed guidance.

"It will let everyone know kind of what our basic rules and regulations are and how we do business, whether it's administratively or operationally," he said.

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