Published in The Maui News, August 7, 2016
By MIKE VICTORINO, for The Maui News
The Strategic Master Plan for the Department of Fire and Public Safety sets the vision for fire safety over the next five years in Maui County.
The County Council’s Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee will review the 50-page document, submitted earlier this year by Fire Chief Jeff Murray, in a meeting tentatively planned for 9 a.m. on Aug. 29.
The master plan notes the Fire Department was established in 1924 with 17 paid positions and one fire station in Wailuku. Today, the department has more than 300 uniformed personnel and more than a dozen civilian staffers working at 14 stations on Lanai, Maui and Molokai.
The Fire Department’s mission is “to protect and preserve life, the environment and property.” This includes protecting more than 163,000 residents, up to 66,000 daily visitors, 1,162 square miles of land and 1,237 square miles of ocean within the County of Maui’s jurisdiction.
Core values include recruiting, training and retaining firefighters who are “recognized as community leaders both on and off duty” and “maintain the highest level of professional development.” The department also seeks to be prepared for emergencies and provide public safety education, as noted in the master plan.
With the assistance of survey analysis, the department developed an array of strategic initiatives for the master plan, such as promoting the wellness and morale of personnel, improving facility maintenance and enhancing emergency medical services.
An anonymous public survey drew 258 responses. Among the services provided by the Fire Department, fire suppression, emergency medical services, rescue and fire prevention were ranked as the top four by the public. Survey respondents suggested the Fire Department “do something about fireworks,” provide a helicopter for Lanai and make businesses more aware of their responsibilities under the fire code.
An internal survey of the department’s strengths and weaknesses was also conducted, with 86 firefighters and other staff members anonymously participating. On a scale of 1-10, the department’s mechanic shop received an average score of 8.6, the highest mark of any category in the internal survey.
At 5.0, “peer fitness” received the lowest average score in the internal survey. Consequently, the master plan notes “lack of a fitness program” as a weakness of the Fire Department. Identified strengths of the department include public education, the labor-management relationship and utilization of grant opportunities.
The master plan includes several objectives, such as improving data collection and analysis, creating a social media plan and ensuring the department is prepared to address a terrorism event. Successfully merging the county’s lifeguards into the Fire Department is also a stated goal.
A copy of the master plan is available on the committee’s website, mauicounty.us/pia.
In other news, the committee will soon consider the appointment of Michael Ropa to the Maui County Cultural Resources Commission and Adele Olbinado to the Lanai Planning Commission.
* Mike Victorino is the presiding officer pro tempore of the Maui County Council and chairman of the council’s Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee. He holds the council seat for the Wailuku-Waihee-Waikapu residency area. “Chair’s 3 Minutes” is a weekly column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters. Go to mauicounty.us for more information.