Fire Commission - August 10, 2016 - Minutes

Meeting Date: 
August 10, 2016 - 9:00am

PDF iconAugust 10,, 2016 Final Meeting Minutes.pdf



Wednesday, August 10, 2016 - 9:00 a.m.
City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 416, San Francisco, California, 94102
President Covington called the meeting to order at 9:00 AM.  
Commission President Francee Covington Present  
Commission Vice President Ken Cleaveland Present
Commissioner Stephen Nakajo Excused
Commissioner Michael Hardeman Present
Chief of Department Joanne Hayes-White Present
Mark Gonzales Deputy Chief – Operations
Raemona Williams Deputy Chief - Administration
Shane Francisco Homeland Security
Dan DeCossio Bureau of Fire Prevention
Jeff Columbini Division of Training
Jeff Myers EMS
Rudy Castellanos Airport Division
Assistant Chiefs
Robert Postel Division 2
Kevin Burke Division 3
Mark Corso CFO
Clement Yeh Medical Director
Olivia Scanlon Communication and Outreach Coordinator
There was no public comment.
APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES [Discussion and possible action]
Discussion and possible action to approve meeting minutes.
• Minutes from Regular Meeting on July 13, 2016
Commissioner Hardeman Moved to approve the July 13, 2016 regular meeting Minutes.  Vice President Cleaveland Seconded.  Motion to approve above Minutes was unanimous.
There was no public comment:
Briefing by Policy Fellow Elizabeth Yang and Dr. Emily Murase of the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women regarding the recent Gender Analysis of San Francisco Fire Department.
Fellow Yang and Dr. Murase’s presentation is attached:
Dr. Murase recognized the leadership of the Commission and the Fire Department and for asking what they can do to improve.  She mentioned that the Fire Department came to them in 2011 and 2014 asking how they can improve on some of the challengers that women face in the fields of public safety.  She introduced Fellow Elizabeth Yang who explained the PowerPoint Presentation slides above.  She gave a brief background description of the ordinance that included analyzing employment practices as part of observing potential discrimination against women.  She added that Mayor Lee has prioritized city employment in the career fields of public safety, information technology, and skill crafts for women in his State of the City address and he also emphasized the importance of encouraging and empowering women to pursue such non-traditional careers, which have great job opportunities and salaries, but are culturally less thought of ideal career options for women.  She stated that is critical to ensure that women have equal opportunities to explore options and to uncover and remove any potential barriers for women who desire to enter these fields.  She continued by explaining the gender analyses conducted from 2011 thru 2014 and the findings in 2016.  She acknowledged that Chief Hayes-White had approached the Department on the Status of Women to conduct a gender analysis due to a 50 percent drop in the number of applications for the fire exam in 2009.  She continued that after comparing race and gender, the key findings revealed that several groups of women received equal, if not higher scores than men in the respective ethnicities and 65 percent of African American women who had signed up were no shows and 81 percent of the African American women who did take the exam passed.  The biggest reasons for the low sign ups and turnouts was because of the lack of publicity for the exam information and the required condition to sign up for the exam in person during business hours as well as several occasions of exam date changes.  She went on to say that compared to other public safety departments in San Francisco, the San Francisco fire Department is a leading public safety department in including women.  She talked about the challenges of addressing the low percentage of women in the fire service, and she acknowledged the overall changes in culture within the fire department toward women firefighters in the last 30 years since the 1987 Consent Decree was imposed.  She talked about the recommendations following the general analysis in 2011 and recruitment strategies in reaching veterans, athletes and women who are already capable and have the physical skills so that there is a higher chance of passing the big barrier and to continue to encourage changing culture and stereotypes so that women can pursue public safety jobs.
Vice President Cleaveland thanked Ms. Yang and Dr. Murase for their very interesting report and was delighted to know that San Francisco is the leading large fire department in gender equality.  He asked why other fire departments throughout the country have low recruiting bringing women into their fire departments.  Dr. Murase answered that she thinks that San Francisco values reflect a very strong commitment to gender equality.  The fact that the City’s Department on the Status of Women is the only one in the Country serving the strongest Commission on the Status of Women in the country demonstrates that San Francisco really values gender equality and makes it a priority to have staff people who can focus on these issues.  She added that they would love to work with the Department’s Recruitment Director on brainstorming additional ways to outreach to women.
Chief Hayes-White thanked Dr. Murase and acknowledged what a pleasure it has been to have her as a colleague over the years and that she admires the work that she does as well as her accessibility and guidance.  She also thanked Ms. Yang for putting the presentation together and commented that she has a very bright future.  Chief Hayes-White reminded the Commission that they work very closely with the Department and Commission on the Status of Women, as well as the employee group, the United Fire Service Women who have been a great help in recruitment.
Commissioner Hardeman thanked both Dr. Murase and Ms. Yang for their presentation and acknowledged Commissioner Nakajo, the Chief and all those who came before the current commissioners who really laid the foundation and did all the work on this issue.  He added that it is their goal to improve recruitment.
President Covington thanked Dr. Murase and Ms. Yang for their presentation.  She inquired as to why there was a drop in the number of female applicants for the fire exam in 2009.  Ms. Yang explained it was because of a lack of accessibility to the exam as well as several test date changes.  Dr. Murase added that there were a lot barriers to actually get to the fire department to sign up and they saw a huge shift when the department went online, it opened up accessibility to everyone, not just women.  She mentioned that firefighting is a non-traditional field among women and she thinks there needs to be gender responsive recruitment strategies where women are encouraged, nominated, and trained.
President Covington suggested it would be helpful if a bigger focus group could be surveyed and it should include members who have just entered the department, those getting ready to retire, have children, who don’t have children so that there will be a more accurate snapshot of the department as it relates to women.  She also recommended exit interviews as a good source of obtaining candid information.  President Covington remarked that the information provided shows that the department is doing well but can still do better.  She wants to make sure that the women of the department feel valued.  Dr. Murase agreed and stated she hoped for a robust partnership in terms of exposing younger children to what it means to become a firefighter and she commended Chief Hayes-White for her leadership and thanked the Commission for taking the time to review the results.
There was no public comment on this item.
5. RESOLUTION 2016-05 [Discussion and possible action]
Discussion and possible action regarding proposed Resolution 2016-05, recommending that the Board of Supervisors authorize the San Francisco Fire Department to accept and expend Port Security Grant Program funding in the amount of $769,922 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to purchase a new dive boat.
Mark Corso gave an overview of the resolution which is attached:
Commission Secretary Conefrey read the Resolution into the record.
President Covington made note that the resolution was dated September of 2015.  Mr. Corso explained that when they applied for the grant late last year, it was after the budget had gone through its formal approval.  They worked closely with the Mayor’s office during this year’s budget process to include it.  President Covington asked if the dive boat would be built to the Department’s specifications.  Mr. Corso responded that it would probably have specific equipment and characteristics and would not necessarily be something directly off the shelf.  Chief Postel clarified the current dive operations which are done of the police Moose boat and stated the new dive boat would be similar in design.  President Covington thanked everyone who worked on the grant and mentioned they did a wonderful job.
Vice President Cleaveland moved to approve Resolution 2016-05.  Commissioner Hardeman Seconded.  The motion was unanimous.
There was no public comment on this item.
Retired Deputy Chief Richard Kochevar will highlight events scheduled for the 150th Anniversary Grand Parade.
Retired Deputy Chief Kochevar reported on the attached presentation:
Chief Hayes-White welcomed retired Deputy Chief Kochevar and Lt. Bill Koenig and mentioned that she had the privilege of working with them both.  She added that they had a great careers with the Department and she appreciates very much their presentation and their participation in the upcoming 150th events.
Chief Kochevar described .in detail the 150th Anniversary Grand Parade scheduled for September 24th at 10 to 12 p.m. and historical apparatus and demonstrations for September 25th starting at 10:00 a.m., all at Fisherman’s Wharf, open to the public so they can get a live action recreation of how the San Francisco Fire Department operated in the 1800’s and early 1900’s with horse drawn apparatus, hose wagons, ladder trucks, and then eventually motorized equipment.  He added that they will also have tables and chairs for different community organizations, such as Fire Prevention, NERT, Training and Recruitment.  He mentioned that the cost of the event will be paid through public donations and corporate sponsors, no general fund money is being spent on this event.  He continued by describing all the plans and exhibitions that have been developed for the event.  He acknowledged Tom Escher from the Red and White Fleet as being very helpful in the planning.
Vice President Cleaveland thanked them for all the work they have been doing to help celebrate the Department’s 150th and mentioned that he looks forward to the event.  He confirmed that the press conference will be in front of Pier 45 at 11:00 on Friday, September 23, 2016.
Commissioner Hardeman thanked them for their presentation and thanked them for their dedication and without their volunteering, it would not have been staffed.
Chief Kochevar took the time to thank Chief Hayes-White and her office staff as they sent out invitations to every fire department in the state of California and they have confirmed that Virginia City Fire Department and a private citizen from Washington State are sending their steam engines, among others.
President Covington stated that she thinks it’s going to be a grand occasion and she encouraged everyone to go to the website, as well as the Guardians of the City website for more information and for volunteer opportunities.  She also thanked the members of the audience who have signed up.
There was no public comment.
Update from Mark Corso on the draft Strategic Plan.
Mark Corso provided some background on the current developments of the Strategic Plan.  He mentioned that last year, the Chief put together a Strategic Planning Committee made up of both members of the department and a variety of all ranks and disciplines, including the Fire Commission, representatives from other fire departments, other city department and the private sector.  The goal of the committee meeting was to establish a framework and develop a strategic plan that outlines and sets the basis for the needs of the department moving forward.  He added that the group met a few times last year to develop a strategy for the plan.  It was decided that a number of sub groups would be established and focus on specific subject matter.  They interviewed other members and individuals outside of the committee within those disciplines and provided input.  He went on to describe the different steps that were taken and concluded by stating there was a request for additional narrative to be added, formatting issues, as well as interviews from the various workgroups to get information to fill in gaps that were identified, but unfortunately the analyst that was gathering the information went on an unanticipated leave so there has been a delay in incorporating those items into the draft report, but they are in the process of incorporating the notes and feedback into an updated draft at the end of this month or early next month, and to be presented to the Commission for a full vetting before moving forward.
Vice President Cleaveland thanked Mr. Corso and stated he thinks it is good for the Department to have a Strategic Plan.  He strongly suggested that the word “enforce” be placed in the Mission Statement, such as to add it where it says to prevent fires through prevention, education, and enforcement programs.  He also asked that he Commission be informed when the Strategic Plan meetings are scheduled.
Commissioner Hardeman thanked everyone who worked on the plan and thought it was a very good draft.
President Covington was not as enthusiastic as her fellow commissioners about the document.  She thought it was woefully absent some key provisions and level of detail.  She added that to her a strategic plan is designed to be a snapshot of where the department is now, where they want to go and what the vision is on how to get there step by step.  Mr. Corso responded that there will be a more robust presentation once they add the additional feedback and input has been incorporated.  She mentioned that when she visits the various firehouses, one of the questions that comes up from members is where are we headed as a department and they seem to want something in writing that says this is where we are, this is where we are going and this is how were getting there
Chief Hayes-White thanked Mark and echoed that the draft document is not a finished product.  She added that they heard loud and clear from the representatives on the Committee which represents all ranks and were jointly selected by then Commission President Andrea Evans, President Tom O’Connor and herself and it was the consensus that they didn’t want to have a huge document.  She agreed that more detail needs to be added and invited an additional Commissioner to join the Committee.
There was no public comment.
Report on current issues, activities and events within the Department since the Fire Commission meeting of July 27, 2016, including academies, strategic planning, 150th Anniversary update, special events, communications and outreach to other government agencies and the public.
Chief Hayes-White’s report covered the period following the Commission meeting on July 27, 2016.  She stated that the 120th academy is in its eight week with 54 members and she acknowledged the Division of Training under the direction of Assistant Deputy Chief Columbini and Deputy Chief Williams for the commitment they have made by making sure the recruits are doing the best they can.  She added that the 121st academy is scheduled and budgeted.
Chief Hayes-White touched briefly on the 150th anniversary which included the upcoming event at Washington Square Park on August 23, 2016 at 3:00 to honor the volunteers from the Police and Fire Departments, the 9/11 ceremony and Mass, the Parade at Fisherman’s Wharf, Fire Prevention Week, the commissioning of the new Fireboat, the Film Festival scheduled for November 5th and 6th, and the December 3rd final 150th Anniversary celebrations.  She touched on special events, including the Outside Lands three-day music festival that was attended by thousands of people.  She mentioned that she attended the official signing of the budget on August 1 and on August 9, 2016 she met with the San Francisco Latino Parity and Equity Coalition along with Deputy Chief Gonzales, Fire Marshal DeCossio and Olivia Scanlon to continue the discussion on efforts related to fire prevention, education and outreach.  She concluded her report by asking President Covington to consider adjourning the meeting in the honor and memory of Firefighter Louis Lituanio and Battalion Chief Patrick Murphy.
Vice President Cleaveland thanked and appreciated the Chief’s comprehensive report.  There was brief discussion on the fire boat naming contest and the December 3, 2016 150th Anniversary Event possibly at the Zoo.
Commissioner Hardeman thanked the Chief for her well done report and acknowledged her son Sean and the article that was in the newspaper about his recent surgery.  He added that he was glad to hear he is doing well.  Chief Hayes-White thanked Commissioner Hardeman for the acknowledgement and stated she is very grateful and relieved for Sean and is very proud of him.
President Covington also stated that she was happy everything worked out for Sean.
There was no public comment.
Report on overall field operations, including greater alarm fires, mutual aid, Emergency Medical Services, Bureau of Fire Prevention & Investigation, and Airport Division.
Chief Gonzales’ report covered the month of July 2016.  He described the one greater alarm for the month which occurred on July 8, 2016 at 121 Gates Street.  The cause of the fire was accidental from a wall mounted gas heater and Red Cross was called for three displaced residents.  Assistant Chief Richardson was in command of that fire.  He announced that the public service announcements went out regarding surf rescue safety, the rip currents, sneaker wave safety, hypothermia and which beaches have life guards.  He added that the engine companies continue to pass out fire prevention education material while out on calls or out in the public while doing their daily drills.  Coastal rescue companies also continue to give surf hazard education to the community while on calls or out in the public.  He recommended that folks sign up for emergency notifications by texting “Alerts” to 888-777.  He mentioned that firework public safety announcements were given on television, radio and printed in multiple languages from June 6 to July 4, 2016.  He touched on several incidents that required SFFD response, including a cliff rescue, several fires that were quickly contained, a car into a house, a worker who fell off a ledge and a surf rescue.  He commended PIO Jonathan Baxter for his outstanding work in getting information out to the public as well as his efforts in helping a police officer who was struggling with a perpetrator and Lt. Baxter was able to detain the male subject until additional units arrived from the SFPD.  He also touched on the Strike Team deployments and the arrival of the new fire boat.
Chief Gonzales stated that the ambulances are still doing a good job with response times, as well as King America and AMR and they are getting to the scene under 10 minutes 92.5 percent of the time.  He added that H-23 negotiations are ongoing.  He covered Division of Fire Prevention and Investigations, Plan Check and the Bureau of Fire Investigations.
Vice President Cleaveland thanked Chief Gonzales for his report.  He mentioned that he sent an inquiry to the SFMTA director, Ed Reiskin asking him if the SFMTA/Department of Public Works can convert the speed bumps into speed cushions so that the Department’s vehicles can travel down streets without having to slow or damage the apparatus.  He will follow-up when he hears back.  Vice President Cleaveland also commended PIO Baxter for probably saving the police officer’s life.  There was brief discussion on the Soberanes fire and how the SFFD is assisting with that.
Commissioner Hardeman thanked him for his wonderful detailed report.  He commented on the reported fires over the period and thought it was remarkable that out of the hundreds of thousands of structures in the City, there were only 17 fires for the month.
President Covington responded to a letter received from a citizen who stated she had called repeatedly about illegal fireworks that were going off in her neighborhood and could not get through.  President Covington wanted the public to know that the Commission did respond to her letter and let her know that Emergency Management Services is the entity that answers the 9-1-1 calls, and as soon as the Fire Department gets notified they respond appropriately.  She added that there were reports that the 9-1-1 services were grossly understaffed on July 4, 2016.
President Covington also commended PIO Baxter for stepping in and assisting the police officer.  There was brief discussion on when the Department bills people for services rendered.  Chief Gonzales stated they are billed only if they are transported.
There was no public comment.  
Discussion regarding agenda for the August 24, 2016 regular meeting.
• Mutual Aid
• End of year calendar
• Civil Grand Jury Report
• Creation of the H-23 Position
• Update on new EMS Building
There was no public comment.
President Covington adjourned the meeting in the memory of Firefighter Louis Lituanio. Battalion Chief Patrick Murphy and Deputy Chief James Olson at 11:17 a.m.