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HomeNewsKillingworth Town Government2020 Annual Report of the KVFC

2020 Annual Report of the KVFC

Submitted by Michelle Ford, KVFC Probationary Member.

In 2020, the 56 active members of the Killingworth Volunteer Fire Company (KVFC) volunteered nearly 8,000 hours of their time serving the community.

In total, members responded to 389 incidents including:

  • 44 Fires (structures, vehicles, brush/vegetation)
  • 174 Medical
  • 28 Motor vehicle accidents
  • 3 Hazardous material concerns
  • 14 Carbon monoxide incidents
  • 9 Electrical (wiring problems, downed powerlines)
  • 12 Public service assistance calls
  • 78 False Alarms (detector malfunction, accidental activation, etc.)
  • 27 Miscellaneous (animal rescue, severe weather, etc.)

In addition to over 5,000 hours spent responding to calls, KVFC members dedicated over 2,000 hours honing their skills in training and drills and nearly 1,000 hours inspecting and cleaning the equipment and facilities.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic presented numerous challenges for KVFC members, including major changes to response protocols and the need for increased personal protective equipment (PPE) and decontamination at all responses, which they readily overcame.  Although call volume decreased slightly in 2020, the duration of each call increased to account for the donning of additional PPE,  decontamination of equipment and vehicles and the increased documentation requirements.

In light of the hardships which accompanied COVID-19, the Department pressed forward and reached a number of milestones, the largest of which was nearing completion of a $320,000 planned upgrade to the Department’s outdated communication system. From the moment of dispatch to the departure from a scene, the lifeline for a KVFC firefighter is their radio. The Department’s radios were last upgraded over 14 years ago and no longer met National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards for first responders. The 2020 upgrade included hardware enhancements at the Town’s 4 tower sites, replacement of all hand-held radios in the vehicles, and issuance of and training on new radios and pagers for responding members.  The upgraded radios are more reliable, NFPA-compliant, heat tolerant, provide improved voice clarity and noise cancelation, and include a personal distress button and identifier for each firefighter – all of which provide added safety for the responders and a more efficient response for the Killingworth community.

In 2020, the Department also shifted to a 100% paperless, [fully online] system for documenting incidents and Department activities such as training, drills, and meetings. The online system saves time and space, eliminates paper waste and storage, provides centralized storage and access, reduces the potential for human error, and automatically submits incident reports to the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) on a monthly basis.

In addition to the communications upgrades and transition to online documentation, the KVFC hardened security at both stations through the installation of an Access Control System (ACS). In contrast to the previous key-pad access system, the ACS better limits access to KVFC assets, adds a layer of accountability to all members entering a station, and gives ranking officers the ability to view and restrict access as needed.

As the Department adapted to safety protocols of the COVID-19 pandemic, KVFC officers quickly realized that the outdated “ready room” at Station 1 didn’t allow for effective social distancing.  As a result, a number of KVFC members pitched in to reconfigure and remodel the room to permit for effective social distancing and provide a more functional [workspace] for the responders to organize and store PPE, complete required documentation, and hold post-response debrief sessions.

According to KVFC Chief Dick Bauer, “I could not be more proud and grateful for how the members of the KVFC stepped up to the plate in 2020 to keep our residents safe.  We didn’t have a playbook to pull out for how to respond to this pandemic, but our officers and members worked together to modify all aspects of our operations – from our emergency responses, training sessions, meetings and even building modifications to allow for social distancing.  As always, our firefighters worked together to get through the challenges of 2020 and prepare us for what should be a better 2021.”

This past year, Deputy Chief Donnie Venuti and Assistant Chief Mike Carri completed Fire Service Instructor 2 which allows them to oversee and evaluate KVFC firefighters in live burn scenarios. Firefighters Ben Chasse and Kevin Dougherty completed Firefighter 1 training and became full-time members of KVFC.  The Department also welcomed a record 6 probationary members, the most the Department has seen in years, and celebrated a number of anniversaries including firefighter George Roelofsen, Jr. (35 years), Bob Drew (30 years), Brian Walsh (15 years), Dave Hudson and Dan Siegel (10 years) .  The Department mourned the loss of Veteran Members Dave Dudek and Roger Sherman and retired member Dick Adinolfo.

Looking ahead to 2021, the Department is focused on making the COVID-19 vaccine available to all responders, [preparing] to resume in-person training at the Department’s training building, planning for the replacement of the 1994 heavy rescue vehicle and 2006 light rescue/brush truck, and to continue to focus on recruitment, training and retention. In addition, the Board of Fire Commissioners and Chief Bauer are working with the Board of Selectmen to modify the Town ordinance for the tax abatement for active members to better align with what’s allowed by State Statute. The tax abatement is an incentive for active members who meet the training, response and participation requirements throughout the year.

The Department, which relies on donations to supplement the annual budget from the Town to maintain operations, is especially thankful to Killingworth’s residents for their overwhelming response to the December 2020 annual mailing.  In addition, the Department is grateful for the support of the Town’s Board of Fire Commissioners, Board of Selectman, and all agencies which support the KVFC throughout the year.

 

The KVFC relies on dedicated volunteers from the community and any members interested in serving are encouraged to contact the department by email at FireChief@TownofKillingworth.com.

Fire Safety Remember:  Fireplace ashes can remain a viable ignition source for two days! When disposing of ashes, remember to place them outside in a non-flammable container on a fireproof surface such as a stone patio, walkway or driveway.  Never place ashes in flammable container such as a cardboard box or garbage bag or on a combustible surface such as a wood deck or patio and remember to always store your recovered ashes outdoors.

Photos courtesy of KVFC.

 

 

Sharon Challenger
Sharon Challenger
I am a professional Scenic Artist and have also worked as a Systems Analyst and Senior Programmer Analyst for the Travelers and Yale University. Education: Post University, Wesleyan University and Yale University School of Drama.

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