Fire Commission - July 27, 2016 - Minutes

Meeting Date: 
July 27, 2016 - 5:00pm

PDF iconJuly 27, 2016 Final Meeting Minutes.pdf


Wednesday, July 27, 2016 – 5:00 p.m.
City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 416, San Francisco, California, 94102
President Covington called the meeting to order at 5:00 PM.  
Commission President Francee Covington Present  
Commission Vice President Ken Cleaveland Present
Commissioner Stephen Nakajo Present
Commissioner Michael Hardeman Present
Acting Chief of Department Mark Gonzales Present
Raemona Williams Deputy Chief – Administration
Jeff Myers EMS
Dan DeCossio Bureau of Fire Prevention
Jeff Columbini Division of Training
Ken Lombardi Staff Services
Shane Francisco Homeland Security
Rudy Castellanos Airport Division
Assistant Chiefs
Kevin Burke Division 2
Kevin Smith Division 3
Mark Corso CFO
Olivia Scanlon Communication and Outreach Coordinator
There was no public comment.
4. APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES [Discussion and possible action]
Discussion and possible action to approve meeting minutes.
• Minutes from Regular Meeting on June 22, 2016
Vice President Cleaveland Moved to approve the June 22, 2016 regular meeting Minutes.  Commissioner Hardeman Seconded.  Motion to approve above Minutes was unanimous.
There was no public comment.
Overview and update from Assistant Deputy Chief Ken Lombardi on the effects of street design/traffic calming changes and traffic calming and challenges facing the SFFD
Chief Lombardi’s PowerPoint Presentation is attached:
Chief Lombardi talked about the many challenges the Department faces every day responding to fire and medical emergency calls, in addition to topographical issues, wood framed construction, overhead electrical wires, narrow streets, widening of sidewalks and double parking.  He added that some of the conflicts with the recent traffic calming measures is meeting response times and having enough room to operate the apparatus.  He mentioned that they are working with Captain Rivera of the Bureau of Equipment to streamline the rigs as much as possible, such as recessed handles, smaller bumpers, and bigger windshields.  He anticipates purchasing eight new engines at the end of August.  He mentioned that as some of these traffic calming measures go forward, they might look good on paper, but when they don’t work logistically for the Department, they bring the issues back to the Planning Department and MTA and they work collaboratively to correct the problems.  They have designed a template that was designed specifically for the fire engines so that they don’t have to go out and physically do cone tests at every intersection.  He announced that working collaboratively with President Covington, members of 798, members of the Department and with the City Attorney, they have come up with the following language to measure all projects “the SFFD does not support any traffic calming measures that would take an existing condition, whether conforming or non-confirming, and create a more hazardous condition by forcing a driver to encroach further into oncoming traffic.”  He went on to describe various intersections where this happens, as well as challenges with traffic circles, bulb outs, plazas in front of new buildings, speed humps, and angled parking,  He stated that the department supports speed cushions over speed humps as the speed humps slow down response times and can damage the apparatus.
Vice President Cleaveland thanked Chief Lombardi for his very good report and acknowledged how he is always on top of it when it comes to the facilities.  He asked for clarification about the minimum street width required between sidewalks.  Fire Marshal DeCossio stated that the 20 foot requirement is out of the State Fire Code but not adopted by the State Fire Marshal and it was adopted at the local level through amendments.  He added that it could be changed.  Vice President Cleaveland suggested that with taller buildings being built to accommodate the higher population, the Department should advocate for wider streets.  He also mentioned that there should only be speed cushions and not speed humps.  Chief Lombardi stated that they have met with MTA and if they have plans to install speed humps, they will notify the Department to get their input.  There was brief discussion on permanent and temporary street closures.  Vice President Cleaveland asked Chief Lombardi that when he talks to SFMTA and the fact that the Department is always criticized for response times, does he make sure that they know that by taking lanes out of streets, such as 2nd Street and Valencia Street, they are in some way compromising the Department’s ability to quickly arrive to a fire or medical emergency.  Chief Lombardi answered that he makes that known every single time.
Commissioner Nakajo thanked Chief Lombardi for his comprehensive report with concise information.  He commented that taking the bus stops away as a traffic calming measure prevents people that are driving cars to move out of the way of an emergency vehicle with lights and sirens on and causes delays in response times.
Commissioner Hardeman thanked Chief Lombardi for his report and stated he really appreciates the graphics.  He acknowledged the improvements made to the new specs for the apparatus.  There was brief discussion on the percentage of street grades and the use of aerial trucks.
President Covington thanked Chief Lombardi for his presentation and looks forward to frequent updates as the Department gets informed of new issues and challenges with street design and traffic calming measures.  She also acknowledged that members of the public have pushed for smaller rigs, but because of the topographical territory in San Francisco, we must have rigs of a certain size.  Chief Lombardi confirmed that because of the hills, the rigs need a certain amount of horsepower to get up those hills.  He added that in addition, the rigs carry 500 gallons of water and carry heavy equipment and ladders and that factors into the need of the rigs to be a certain size.  President Covington was happy to hear that the new turning templates that are being used by planners in the City are more specific to the Departments apparatus measurements and that they are allowing emergency vehicle access to field tests before permanent designs are made. She added that being able to know well in advance that these changes are being planned so the Department can give feedback is essential.  There was discussion concerning the projects highlighted in Chief Lombardi’s report including Herman Street, Laguna Street, and the Oak Street Plaza.  Chief Lombardi stated that the planners have been very receptive to the Department’s needs.  President Covington asked that Chief Lombardi keep the Commission informed with regards to replacing speed humps and bumps with speed cushions.  
There was no public comment.
Update on recent discussions regarding station 49, including establishment of new H-23 classification.
Chief Gonzales stated that on July 18, 2016, he met with President Covington, Vice President Cleaveland, Local 798 President Tom O’Connor, the Chief of Department and members of the EMS Officers Association to tighten up some loose ends, including wages and seniority.  He added that on July 19th, 2016 they met again, with DHR Representative Steve Ponder, 798’s attorney, President O’Connor, the EMS Officers Association, ADC Myers and President Covington and agreed to those two items as well as to modify the classification.  He acknowledged the good job done by Chief Myers and is hopeful they get the document modified so they can move forward with more talks on implementing it.  President Covington asked for frequent updates until the deal is made.
There was no public comment.
Report on current issues, activities and events within the Department since the Fire Commission meeting of July 13, 2016, including Fiscal Year 2015-2016 budget, academies, 150th Anniversary update, special events, communications and outreach to other government agencies and the public.
Acting Chief Gonzales’ report covered events since the last meeting on July 13.  He stated that they sent strike teams to the Soberanes fire on July 23, 2016, and the first strike team was led by Assistant Chief Siragusa along with strike team leader trainer Battalion Chief Brook Baker and 22 other members were also deployed, including 5 engines.  The second strike team sent was led by Battalion Chief Bryan Rubenstein and Captain Siguenza.  They were joined by three engines from San Mateo County, one from Alameda County and the Department’ OES Rig 361.  On July 25, 2016 they assisted Contra Costa County by sending Engine 7.  According to Chief Siragusa, in his experience, he expected this deployment to be a long engagement.  Chief Gonzales read the following note from a thankful Carmel Highlands resident: “Thank you to the brave SF firefighters who are assisting in the Soberanes fire in Carmel.  They are from a stations near A T & T Park, Mission District, and near the Transamerica Pyramid.  The SFFD crews camped out overnight last night in our neighborhood to protect residents and property from the encroaching fire.  They were understanding, helpful, and respectful of our situation.  Unfortunately, I could not offer them a hot cup of coffee as our power was out.  It was easier to get a good night sleep knowing that your firefighters were on guard in our neighborhood.  I hope that one day our community will be able to support you in the same way that you have assisted so many of us in the Carmel Highlands.  Thank you, and God Bless.  Marilyn Codony.”
Regarding the budget, Chief Gonzales gave the following update:  The budget was heard by the Board of Supervisors on July 19, 2016 where it passed at the first reading.  It was heard again and approved a second time at the net board meeting on July 26, 2016.  No changes were made to the request.  It is now at the Mayor’s office for final Signature.
He gave a brief update on the 120th academy class, with 54 member currently in their six week.  He added that the 121st academy is currently set to start sometime in November.  Chief Gonzales mentioned that they may have an H-8 academy in early October.  He touched on the active shooter training that is currently taking place.
He gave an update on events planned for the 150th anniversary, including the August 23, 2016 event at Washington Square Park from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., the September 11, 2016 unveiling of the World Trade Center piece which will take place at the Public Safety Building at 5:46 a.m., to be followed by the police/fire mass at St. Monica’s on Geary Blvd.  He continued that on September 24 and 25 there will be a civil celebration which will include a parade and historical exhibition to take place along Fisherman’s Wharf, and all these events are free and open to the public.  He encouraged folks to visit for further information.  October 9-15, 2016 is Fire Prevention week, where the public will have an opportunity to visit their local firehouses and learn how best to prevent a fire in the home or workplace.  On October 17, 2016, is the projected date for the Commissioning of the new Fireboat, the first time in 61 years.  He mentioned that on November 5 & 6, 2016, is the SFFD film festival at the Main Library that President Covington has been working very hard on will take place, and he thanked her for that.
With regards to special events and communications and outreach to other government agencies, he stated that he, Chief Hayes-White, Assistant Deputy Chief Dan DeCossio, Olivia Scanlon and Local 798 Executive Board Firefighter Adam Wood met with Diana Flores from Causa Justa and Tommy Mecca from Housing Rights and Supervisor Campos’ office regarding updates on fire prevention initiatives that have been brought up. It was a good meeting.  He continued that on July 24th at approximately 8:30 a.m., the new fireboat cruised under the Golden Gate Bridge with a magnificent water display and welcoming fleet to greet her.  He acknowledged Senior Pilot Jeff Amdahl and retired Senior Engineer Nate Hardy for putting in the bulk of the work on the new fireboat.  He also commended Mark Corso and Chief Ray Guzman for working together on the financing piece of the project.  He touched on the California Firefighter Olympics held in Fremont and gave a shout out to the basketball team who won Division 2 gold as well as the stick ball team who also won gold and the bowling team who won medals.
Commissioner Hardeman thanked Chief Gonzales for his report and thought it was a good call to send down crews to the Carmel Fire.  He thanked Mark Corso for his work on the budget.  He described the arrival of the Fireboat coming in under the Golden Gate Bridge as he was out on the Phoenix escorting it in.  He suggested getting on the ball and immediately start looking at securing another fire boat.
Report on the Administrative Divisions, Fleet and Facility status, Finance, Support Services, Homeland Security and Training within the Department.
Chief Williams’ report covered the Month of July.  She mentioned that the Assignment Office under Captain Neuneker, will hold vacancy bids tomorrow for Station 49 and the changes are scheduled to become effective in August.  The seniority list will also go out in September with anticipation of the upcoming suppression vacancy bid later in the year.
Under Homeland Security, Chief Williams stated that Chief Francisco has been busy since the incidents in Orlando, Dallas, Nice and Baton Rouge.  He attended the National Homeland Security Conference and various meetings and training exercises that involve working on disseminating situational awareness information regarding various tactics, some of which include heightened threats against civilians and first responders.
She touched on events from the Investigative Services, Physician’s Office and Staff Services.  She continued by showing pictures of the new fireboat.
Under Fleet Management, she mentioned that evaluations of all bids have been completed and OCA is now entering into the award phase of the contract.  Nine ambulances, eight engines, and two rescue squads have been ordered and should be delivered later this year.  She added that 15 sedans have been delivered and are currently being outfitted prior to delivery to the field for the Bureau of Fire Prevention.  And two aerial trucks have been ordered.  She touched on the Division of Training and NERT.
Vice President Cleaveland thanked Chief Williams for her upbeat report.  He confirmed that Station 16 and Station 5 will start construction at the end of October.  He also confirmed that the 120th Academy class will be graduating on November 4, 2016, at a location to be determined later.
Commissioner Nakajo thanked Chief Williams for her comprehensive report.  He invited Chief Columbini to speak regarding the 121st Academy class and when that might start and how many recruits they anticipate in the class.  Chief Columbini stated they are looking at the same number as the 120th, 54 total, with 42 coming from the H-2 list and 12 from Station 49.  As for the start date, they are looking at a schedule.  A few things they looked at were the holidays and they want to make sure they give staff enough time to be ready for the 121st class.  Commissioner Nakajo appreciated that as he thinks there is so much pressure within the training officers and to have some mental health, physical heath and have some interaction with their family members is important.  There was brief discussion on future budgeted academy classes that Mark Corso weighed in on.  Chief Columbini stated that they are concentrating on quite a bit of in service groups who are the Department’s most senior firefighters and they are putting them out working with the younger members daily in their first alarm areas and talking about buildings they respond to.  They might not read it in a book but what they’ve seen over 25 years they are sharing with the younger firefighters.  It’s a commitment they may only have for two or three more years.  Commissioner Nakajo agreed that institutional experience is valuable and he is glad to hear they are engaging in that.  He concluded by thanking the Department, the Chief and all the members that went to Carmel Highlands to provide mutual aid fighting the fire.
President Covington expressed here excitement on the arrival of the new fire boat and emphasized how important it is for the Department to have a grant writer to take advantage when opportunities come around to apply for grants.  She went on to describe how the naming of the fireboat will be selected among various submissions from San Francisco school children.  President Covington commented on the Soberanes fire and suggested at an upcoming meeting they discuss mutual aid and how the San Francisco Fire Department handles wildland fires.
Commissioner Hardeman acknowledged Olivia Scanlon for her hard work and knowledge working with the Supervisors, Mayor’s Staff and Mayor over the budget process as well as Local 798 for there give and take and thanked the Mayor.
There was no public comment.
Discussion regarding agenda for the August 10, 2016 regular meeting.
• Mutual Aid
• Strategic Plan
• Civil Grand Jury
There was no public comment
President Covington adjourned the meeting at 7:11 p.m.