Is there a traditional Fire Department in West Covina?
The West Covina Fire Department is a Department with tradition but not a traditional Fire Department. The Department was created in 1951 to curb rising costs of County Fire protection, and to provide a level of service tailored to the needs and desires of West Covina residents.
The tradition of providing low-cost, effective services continues today. However, the needs and desires of the community have little resemblance to what they were in 1951. Today the Department constantly scans the community for signs of change so that it can quickly change the way it delivers service to match community needs. Today, as in 1951, the Department provides the highest possible level of life safety at the lowest possible costs. Only today, the Department is working hard to reduce the demand for services by developing risk prevention models that encourage safety and healthy lifestyles throughout the community.
The Department opens its fire stations to neighborhood kids to interact with Firefighters, who are excellent role models, rather than treat one child who is the victim of gang violence. Fire personnel would rather do any preventative activity that reduces the demand for traditional services.
The Fire Department uses a simple formula for providing top-notch but low-cost service:
- hire the best people we can find
- train them well
- empower them to do whatever is necessary to get the job done
The Department prides itself on maintaining a small management staff. This is accomplished through a matrix management system that encourages employees at all levels to develop and manage programs consistent with the Department's mission.
During the last several years the Department has been faced with increased costs but with fewer dollars to pay for those costs. As a result, the Fire Department conducted an alternative service delivery analysis to determine if current service delivery methods are the most effective, or whether alternatives might better fit the needs of West Covina residents.
Staff reviewed the possibility of contracting for fire services with the County or with a private firm. The Department has implemented additional services by resuming the ambulance transport service. This service was originally provided by the Fire Department until the 1986 merger with Covina. Staff continually searches for additional methods to maintain an efficient fire department through the process of cost recovery, federal grants and other services.
The most important consideration when reviewing changes in service delivery is the impact that it will have on residents of West Covina. An example of a negative impact would be anything that increased response time. Lengthening response time to decrease cost just doesn't make sense. Instead, the Department considers other alternatives, such as ways to reduce vehicle costs, ways to eliminate the root causes that create emergencies in the first place, and ways to improve the outcome of emergencies that do occur.
The West Covina Fire Department is on the leading edge of providing quality customer service to the public. To remain on the leading edge depends on the ability to take intelligent risks; make strategic decisions; recruit, hire, and train the best people; and provide exceptional customer service.
During the past few years, the Fire Department has increased service to the community by providing new programs that enhance public safety, yet has kept costs down by bringing in additional revenue and rethinking how we do business. So to bring us back to our first question, "Is there a traditional department in West Covina?" The answer is unequivocally No! However, there is a strong tradition of providing high-quality low-cost innovative service.