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  • Public Safety Officer

    I recently came across an ad in an employment newsletter from the city of Sunnyvale, CA. The ad states that they are hiring "public safety officers" that are cross trained as police officers and firefighters. Any ideas how well these programs work or what other cities have this type of department?
    More info is available at www.ci.sunnyvale.ca.us/public-safety/recruit/index.htm

    [ 08-23-2001: Message edited by: Resq8 ]

  • #2
    We had a neighboring dept back in the late '70s-early '80s that was PSO based. Here's how it went.

    In mid-70s, city decided to have PSOs. Basically one guy at the station to bring the truck, all the police on duty had turnouts in their trunk and responded direct to scene, dress, and then grab packs and hoses off the truck when it got there. Sounds like a nice idea.

    Here's what really happened. First, all the existing cops in this small suburban town had gotten on the dept, hoping to use their experience to get a leg up with the "big city" dept, or the hiway patrol, or the FBI, or whatever. They wanted to be cops, not FFs, so they all quit (over the next few years). Some stuck it out for a while, but most got frustrated with it.

    So the new guys come in, some are gung ho for both jobs, and go to FF school etc. and it works pretty good. For a while.

    By 1980 or so, (about 5 years into the program) there was only 1 of the original members of the police dept. The new hires had either left for more fire action (this town is small, maybe 5 structures a year) or turned into full time cops. None of them wanted to do the FF stuff anymore, like truck maintenance (even wash it!).

    By 1985, they weren't even sending people to training, nor were they doing in house FF training (just police stuff).

    Then the big mall in town burned. No one knew what to do anymore. After the state investigation, the city went back to separate depts, w/a vollie FD.

    Not that they will all do this, but in a worst case, this is where they can end up.

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    • #3
      My city does this and it seems to be working out great. The only people who man the stations are the engineers, the alarm goes out and they roll the truck, meanwhile all the pso's respond to the scene in there patrol car with their turnouts in the trunk. The response time gets cut way down, by the time the engine gets there the pso's are usually fully bunkered up and just have to get a pack on and grab a hose. Plus you also have to look at it from the standpoint of cost effictiveness, you can have 50 cops and 50 firefighters, or you can just have 75 cops/firefighters. You just cut out 25 members with an avg salary of $26,000 per year, not counting insurance and benifits, thats a good chunk of change. And with an ISO rating of a 2 they must be doing something right.
      When the defecation hits the oscillation I'll be there.

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      • #4
        My agency is a public safety department. We run 5-7 man shifts with a supervisor, two regular patrol units, a two man ALS rescue that also is on patrol and one in the bay manning the fire truck. If we have a call, the truck rolls and the others respond. It works fairly well because we are a small city and don't have many fire calls. With the current system, we can not comply with "two in, two out". I've found also that fire training falls by the wayside. It is very difficult to maintain proficiency in fire, ems, and law enforcement. Vehicle and equipment upkeep also suffers because some pfficers view working in the bay as a vacation from the road.
        Stay safe
        Bless all of our Fallen Brothers and Sisters. You will not be forgotten

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        • #5
          What if the cop pulls his gun on a fire? What if a firefighter squirts an offender with a 2 1/2? I don't know much about it actually with the exception of visiting Aiken, SC where they have it. It was a poor setup and each guy liked one or the other. Two unique fields that require different things from people. Now Sanitation and cops, that would be great. You know, take out the trash!

          Regards,

          J

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          • #6
            I work for a Public Safety Department here in Utah. For the most part, we are a traditional fire/EMS department and seperate police. It is about a 50/50 mix of crossed trained police and fire people.

            As for the fire side, we usually just do the fire/EMS thing. When we have extra staffing for the day, we will send out a crossed trained Firefighter on patrol. The only requirment is 5 hours a month on patrol.

            The program looks great on paper, but the true effectiveness where the rubber meets the road is questionable??
            Front line since 1983 and still going strong

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            • #7
              There are about 10-20 PSO Depts here in Michigan. Most are small, upscale cities that have very few fires and would be better off with a paid on call or volunteer dept that focused on fires rather than police work. A couple other small places (Highland Park, Royal Oak Twp) show up with two guys and call mutual aid like crazy-both places have major financial problems and laid everyone off. The big one is Kalamazoo, but they still have some IAFF guys who didn't crosstrain-(so I've been told, if I'm wrong someone please correct me.)
              The PSO dept next to my dept got a vol FF and civilian killed and another ff burned last year at a fire. They only have 3 fire trucks, and all were at another fire when an Apt fire came in. 4 guys took a van there, 2 went in and tried to rescue the civilian and got trapped(no engine on scene) Mutual aid took 17 minutes. The NIOSH report is available if anyone's interested.
              My opinion of PSO depts-they only work if you don't have fires. Any suburban dept. that gets by with PS would be better off with POC or volunteers-in fact most of the ones around us the paid guys are crosstrained but have volunteers that do everything but drive the rigs. PSO depts don't do the preplanning, fire prevention, training, etc to be good at the fire side. It's an excuse to have more cops at the expense of fire protection.

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              • #8
                I work for a Public Safety department. In Spartanburg all police officers are trained as FFs. When an alarm is dispatched 1 police officer is supposed to be sent with each Engine company responding. They are also required to attend monthly fire training (4.0 hrs/mo)What the PSO program has accomplished for Spartanburg is a drastic reduction in the number of staff assigned to the Fire Division over the past years. Another issue is that if we have one not to mention two working fires while a Police issue is going on well, you do the math. The fire division works 24/48, the police division works 9.0 hour shifts. On third shifts they may be lucky if they have 6 officers working. SO, is it working here... yes .... How efficient and safe is it ?????

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