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   Larry Chee, Fire Chief
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ABOUT US

Yesterday and Today
The Navajo Nation Department of Fire & Rescue Services is a fairly young organization. It was established in 1985 in Fort Defiance (Arizona) and was initially charged with the responsibility of preventing and suppressing fires and performing some vehicle rescue (extrication) services.

Today, the department is charged with preventing and suppressing fires, performing technical rescues, and mitigating the effects of hazardous material incidents. Other duties grand-fathered in, because of the evolution of the fire service, include emergency medical pre-hospital care delivery (i.e. Emergency Medical Services at the First Responder and Emergency Medical Technician levels) and the response to Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Services are provided from the following stations. Other communities not listed are either protected by a community fire department or the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).

    Window Rock (Fire Station 10)
    Fort Defiance (Fire Station 12)
    Chinle (Fire Station 50)
    Tuba City (Fire Station 40)
    Leupp (Fire Station 80)

At each fire station their exist between 10-15 volunteer firefighters and one to two paid firefighters. Going up the hierarchy is the Fire Captain who oversees a section of the department. Those sections being the Operations Section and the Prevention Seciton. At the top of the hierarchy is the Fire Chief.

Job Duties & Responsibilities
Fire Chief
The Fire Chief serves as the Program Director for the department. The Chief establishes the vision, and sets the goals and objectives of the organization. The Chief plans, organizes and directs activities of the Fire Department related to fire prevention, fire suppression, emergency medical services, fiscal management, strategic planning and emergency preparedness.

Fire Captains
Fire Captains oversee a section of the department - Operations Section or Prevention Section.

Captain's put into action the Fire Chief’s plan, and under general direction of the Fire Chief, manages the activities of the fire stations, plans, organizes, directs, and evaluates the activities of the firefighters, and commands larger fires and other emergency operations. The Captains carry out all administrative, management, training, fire prevention, public education, physical fitness, maintenance, personnel, supervisory, disciplinary, fire control, rescue, medical, hazardous materials-related, disaster, tactical and strategic activities of the Fire Department during normal day to day operations and during emergency periods.

Lieutenants
At each fire station there exist either one or two paid firefighters, the Fire Lieutenant. This Lieutenants are the only paid individuals at the fire station, and under his/her command manages, supervises and leads anywhere from 10 to 15 volunteer firefighters.

Lieutenants respond to fires, rescue and medical alarms, as well as other emergencies and public incidents for the purpose of reducing and preventing life and property loss. Lieutenants supervise the fire prevention and suppression activities of the individual fire station, and all volunteer firefighters under him/her. The Lieutenants also conducts volunteer training functions, and directs their work at the scene of an emergency.

By the very nature of their title, Lieutenants holds a supervisor and functional role within the organization. They are the first line supervisors.

Volunteer Firefighters Volunteer firefighters are the backbone of the organization. Although they do not receive transactional returns (salary, wages, stipends, etc.), they are compensated in many relational ways (i.e. training, experience and psychological returns). The Volunteers’ role is to respond to fire alarms, rescue incidents, medical emergencies, hazardous ‘chemical’ situations, and other types of emergencies and need for aid. Volunteer firefighters also perform fire safety inspections and educational programs to reduce property and life loss from fires.

Training Demands
Training demands require the most time for fire service personnel, particularly in initial training. Easily, the recruit firefighter can accumulate up to 400 hours or 5 months of training just to begin firefighting activity. The reason, besides the high risk work involved, is to meet national consensus standards for training, which is the National Fire Protection Associations’ (NFPA) Standard 1001, Standard for Firefighter Professional Qualifications. Because our volunteers have to meet a standard, they are no way associated as unprofessional. The standard requires that they meet the same training requirements, if not more, then a major metropolitan fire department.

Historically, these firefighters learned on the job, but with rising litigation because of firefighter Line of Duty Deaths (LODD) and injuries, most organizations do not apt to take the O.J.T. or On the Job Training method.

National consensus standards, such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations play "devil’s advocate" in the department’s recruitment and retention issue of volunteer firefighters by increasing both classroom and practical requirements. The intent of these standards and laws were not to increase the difficulty of becoming a firefighter, but to decrease the number of LODD by increasing safety awareness and establishing minimum competencies requirements. This delay to begin firefighting activity now acts as a catalyst to the potential firefighters commitment because the enthusiasm to become a firefighter is now lost.

Statistics
Yearly, the department responds to over 1,500 calls annually. Just from the six fire stations, property loss due to fires is estimated at over $1,000,000. Although fires account for a low percentage of our calls (Vehicle Crashes being the number one, followed by EMS calls), a single fire incident can result in over $50,000.00 worth of damages and losses.

Below is a breakdown of our statistics: From FY2006 through FY2010

Incidents Type
 
FY 2011
FY 2012
FY 2013
FY2014
No. of Mutual Aid Calls: Given
 
141
107
219
273
Structure Fires: Buildings, Trailers, etc. 
 
43
98
75
92
Brush Fires 
 
24
47
56
57
Vehicle Fires 
 
25
16
26
33
Other Fires 
 
21
60
44
53
Over -pressure Rupture, Explosion, Overheat 
 
14
2
4
21
Motor Vehicle Crashes 
 
272
210
195
233
EMS: Fire Dept. Care Initiated 
 
110
89
97
112
Ambulance or Medical Assist: Non-Fire Dept. Care Initiated 
 
474
270
406
651
Rescues 
 
52
37
45
40
Hazardous Condition 
 
15
38
44
88
Service Calls 
 
128
68
206
281
Good Intent Calls 
 
53
38
39
101
Canceled Enroute 
 
74
270
122
173
False Alarm and False Calls
 
51
47
34
46
Severe Weather and Natural Disaster 
 
13
13
15
4
Special Incidents 
 
7
11
9
0
Total:
 
1,517.0
1,421.0
1,417.0
2,258.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you would like to know more about our organization, or would like to join, please do not hesitate to call or visit your local fire station.

 

 
Copyright (c) 2005 Navajo Nation Department of Fire & Rescue Services