A dramatic personnel makeover has changed the face of the Kingman Fire Department. The KFD has reorganized and reloaded its workforce while embracing community expectations and the pressing demands of a constantly evolving fire service profession.
Retirements, promotions, new hires, and tragic deaths have impacted dozens of positions in the department totaling roughly 75 employees, including all division, communications center and part-time personnel. The hiring and promotions have affected every rank in the organization all of which have changed or are now occupied by different people since new Chief Jake Rhoades took command of the department a year ago.
The changes are most evident in administration.
Andrew Rucker and Dan Winder have been promoted to Battalion Chief. Rucker oversees Operations as C-Shift Commander and Winder administers and manages the EMS function for the department.
New hire Battalion Chiefs Chris Angermuller will take charge of Training and Safety while Len DeJoria is serving as Battalion Chief in Prevention.
The fire department also oversees the communications center where DeAnn McLoud has assumed the position of Communications Administrator. Kimberly McDade has transitioned to the role of Administrative Assistant.
Keith Eaton has assumed a new role in the department as Assistant Chief of operations. Rhoades said he and Eaton and many others have carefully assessed talent and capability and placed personnel to maximize the department’s public safety and community service potential. There are ongoing promotional and hiring efforts to fill Captain, Engineer, Firefighter, Administrative Secretary, Dispatch Crew Leader, and communications specialist positions.
Rhoades said the Department has capitalized upon the challenge and opportunity to build a team that is now ready to advance the organization.
“Now we kind of start seeing the flowers come out and blossom into exactly what we want it to be for the future of the department and the community” Rhoades said. He said command and support staff has assembled the full complement of necessary training, prevention, EMS and fitness components.
“This has been a tremendous transformation that was really unexpected in my first year as Fire Chief,” Rhoades said. He said the Department is like a family working toward a common goal.
“It’s on. It really is. Fortunately, the guys, all of my personnel on the floor really support it. They’ve been looking for some changes for a long time. Everything from doing some other things in prevention such as pre-planning and identifying target hazards, to a comprehensive training program that meets our current and future needs, Rhoades said. “The fire service is advancing and we have some work to do to ensure we are providing the level of service that the community expects and deserves. Advances include health and fitness. All of these things are coming together to take care of our people and the community.”
While Former Chief Chuck Osterman and former Assistant Chief Joe Dorner have retired, and others are no longer with the KFD, Rhoades said veterans like Battalion Chief Porter Williams and Captain Bob Casson remain the glue and backbone of an organization that has historically been served by members of families through multiple generations. “These are two of the informal leaders of the department who are instrumental not only in daily operation but also in the future direction and service delivery of the organization,” Rhoades said.
With personnel and program pieces in place, Rhoades continues to focus on the capital projects and funding challenges to further assemble the KFD puzzle. Need is great and money is short.
Staff continues searching for property for a new Fire Station #2 and a Fire Station #5 that will serve the east bench. Architectural and design efforts are underway to configure identical fire stations that are tracking a few years apart.
Rhoades hopes that construction of Station #2 can get underway sometime next fiscal year. The project carries a price tag of up to $1.75-million.
Station 5 will come a few years later, but at a higher cost because it will need to be equipped with new apparatus and personnel. Both of these stations solve another critical issue for the department and that is storage.
Rhoades stated that he currently has front line apparatus that sits outside due to a lack of apparatus bays and only certain apparatus can be utilized at certain stations due to their age and design.
Rhoades said he wants to implement a Para-medicine program which will include the purchase of rapid response vehicles in the next budget year so paramedics can roll out quickly on med calls without need of dispatching fire engines. He said routine equipment replacement has the department in need of a new $450,000 fire engine in the next budget year and that a new ladder truck and another new engine are programmed for 2019 and 2020.
Rhoades steered clear of stating preferences regarding whether a property tax, fire district tax, bonds, general fund or other revenue sources are his funding vehicle of choice. He said he’ll leave those decisions to the city manager and elected officials, confident his staff will well serve the community.
“We offer exceptional service. We are great at customer service,” Rhoades said. “We’re great at getting our jobs done and the personnel that we have really bought into the changes and the improvements that we’re making and to the future of the organization.”