Part Three

The needs of a city are measured in various numbers that include personnel, equipment and locations. The personnel that make up the departments of public safety in the community of Coronado are no different. “The mission of the Coronado Firefighters Local 1475 is to provide the highest level of safety and care to the Coronado community,” said Local 1475 President, Brandon Ihde.

In this series of articles, we are attempting to help the Coronado community understand what is available to us to protect our citizens in an emergency, as well as look at what the needs are as the community changes and grows. The city of Coronado is a unique environment accessible mainly by a bridge and laid out as an island with pocket neighborhoods and a long strand to some of its residents. Coronado being a heavily visited tourist area also adds to the dimension of coverage and safety with its hotels and daily change of population.

“Coronado has an excellent staff of firefighters that I am proud to be a part of,” said Ihde. “Coronado is an individual city that has very different needs from other communities.” That’s not to say that other communities don’t face the same issues as Coronado when it comes to staffing, equipment and putting plans in place for growth. “This is a difficult task for anyone to manage,” said Ihde, “we must get the community involved as well as our elected officials, so we are all on the same page… When comparing fire and emergency medical services, the Coronado Firefighters have yet to find a community exactly like Coronado,” Ihde explained. An example of a few cities that share similar features and statistics are:

Coronado

Population: 20k

Sq. miles: 7.8

Fire stations: 2

Daily staffing: 10

1 fire truck: 4 firefighters

1 fire engine: 3 firefighters

1 paramedic ambulance: 2 firefighters

1 Division Chief: 1 firefighter

Annual calls: 2555

ISO Class 3 Fire department

Manhattan Beach

Population: 35k

Sq. Miles: 3.9

Fire Stations: 2

Daily staffing: 9

2 Fire engines: 3 firefighters each

1 Paramedic ambulance: 2 firefighters

1 Battalion Chief: 1 firefighter

Annual Calls: 3840

ISO Class 2 Fire Department

Solana Beach

Population: 12k

Sq. Miles: 3.5

Stations: 1

Daily staffing: 6

1 Fire engine: 3 firefighters

1 Fire truck: 3 firefighters

1 24-hour Paramedic Ambulance: 1 paramedic & 1 EMT (contracted through AMR)

1 12-hour Paramedic Ambulance: 1 paramedic & 1 EMT (contracted through AMR and serving the communities of Del Mar, Solana Beach, and Encinitas)

Annual calls: about 2000

ISO Class 1 department

El Segundo

Population: 16k

Sq. miles: 5.5

Fire stations: 2

Daily staffing: 14

2 Fire engines: 3 firefighters each

1 Fire truck: 3 firefighters

2 Paramedic ambulances: 2 firefighters each

1 Battalion Chief: 1 Firefighter

Annual Calls: 2699

ISO Class 2 Fire Department

Obviously, cities across the country operate differently, and have different budgets, staffing issues, and targets that allow them to address the needs important to that individual community. In looking at the similar cities of Manhattan Beach, El Segundo and Solana Beach, we are seeing ones that are most like Coronado. But again, we know Coronado has unique features such as bridge access and a military base. But this does not change the details that need to be examined as it relates to firefighting operations and safety. According to the International Association of Firefighters, which outlines safe firefighter staffing considerations, “firefighter staffing directly affects delivery of fire protection service… Therefore, it is essential to any discussion or debate involving service levels.” Unless citizens understand the relationship between staffing levels and their own life safety and the protection of their property, it is not realistic for firefighters to expect them to insist on appropriate service levels, including minimum staffing.”

So, what can the citizens of Coronado do to enhance their knowledge on the needs of the fire community? “This is a team effort,” started Ihde, “the community can attend city meetings and speak to their elected officials and become cognizant of where city resources are going and what the needs are as a community.” In that vein, the International Association of Firefighters Safe Firefighter Staffing report, states exactly that; “Elected officials cannot be expected to make appropriate decisions concerning the level of service without an education in effective firefighting and an understanding of the impact their policy decisions have on the citizens they represent.”

“We have an incredible community in Coronado… The staff of firefighters dedicated to this community work endless hours and are proud to be a part of protecting it,” said Ihde. “It is not easy to staff and maintain the exceptional level of firefighters that we have in Coronado… The CFA represents nine of the 10 firefighters on duty each day, and we are having a hard time not only finding highly trained firefighters to meet our current staffing levels, but we are in need of additional firefighters to help keep Coronado safe.” Ihde continued.

“I ask the people of Coronado to ask what our comfort level with services and capabilities is… Are we comfortable with what we currently have?… The CFA needs to be part of a development plan to institute better protection based on hazard assessments and the national recommended standards,” said Ihde. “The need has always been there; it has just not been fully addressed.”

Coronado has several resources available to examine the growth of the city and discussions related to that growth and the safety factors that go along with it. “We can search for grants, bring them to our city officials and help fund these initiatives,” said Ihde. “Our mission is to bring insight and expertise and to advise civic leaders on the needs of the community, and the needs of our firefighters.”

It is important to note that these firefighters spend an enormous amount of off duty time doing incredible things in our community and San Diego. As community members there are many things we can participate in to help support fire safety, awareness, and victims of fire related incidents. The spaghetti dinner is held every year by the Coronado Firefighters Association and hosted at the Coronado Fire Department. Attending that event helps to raise funds for the San Diego Burn Institute which supports burn survivors, children, and fire safety programs. The Coronado Firefighters support non-profits such as the Muscular Dystrophy Association, American Initiative, Fallen Firefighters Foundation, Coronado Schools Foundation, and provides daily public education to the community and support to schools, organizations, and community groups. Additionally, there are incredible things that these firefighters do for our community to support the fire department’s programs and initiatives that may go unnoticed:

Provide homebound seniors with COVID vaccines, staff vaccination clinics during the pandemic, support community CPR training through instructional classes and sidewalk pop-up stations, support fire safety events like Open House, support school safety programs: Every 15 Minutes and The Drug Store, support emergency preparedness: CERT and Get Ready Coronado, give support to other neighboring communities during large wildfires.

This is a partial list of what our firefighting community does for us. These proud men and women come in from home to support these programs. It is time for the community of Coronado to become more involved in what they need. Our elected officials are in place and Coronado Local 1475 would like to work together with them and the community to take an in depth look at what the staffing, equipment and training needs are for Coronado as we move into the future. “We have an open-door policy at the fire department,” said Fire Chief Mike Blood. “I am always available to answer questions.”

“The issues that we want to talk about as they relate to budgets and needs for our department might take five to 10 years to become a reality,” said Ihde. “But as the President of the Local 1475 it is time to talk about additional equipment, dorms, training, fire stations and staffing… Addressing some of these concerns will take time, but we need to put a plan in place, so we are prepared for future growth and the needs of our community.”

**CORRECTION TO STATS PRINTED IN ARTICLE DATED 12/7/22

Data and statistics can be shared in a variety of ways. The number of calls Coronado Firefighters responded to in 2005 was 1469. The number of calls Coronado Firefighters responded to in 2021 was 2555, a factor of 1.74 or 174% of the number of calls ran in 2005. The percentage increase between 2005 and 2021 is 74%. Our goal is to provide clear and accurate information, researched and properly resourced so that we may make informed decisions. We thank our partners for bringing this to our attention and allowing us the opportunity to address any concerns. We regret any confusion that this may have caused.

VOL. 113, NO. 1 - Jan. 4, 2023

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