“To provide the most technologically advanced fire and rescue service with the highest trained professionals and to deliver that service to our customers with loyalty and compassion.”
The Loveland-Symmes Fire Department provides fire and emergency medical services to 28,000 residents, under contract to the city of Loveland and Symmes Township. Located throughout the city and township are four firehouses, which house personnel and equipment that respond to emergencies when needed. The department is composed of nearly 60 firefighters who are assigned to ambulances and fire trucks and work on one of three (3) rotating shifts. With this cadre of professionals we are able to provide not only advanced life support (ALS) and firefighting services, but also rescue and fire fighting services that are unparalleled in the region.
Our firefighters are on call seven days a week, 24 hours a day. A shift lasts for 24 hours (1 day) and then the firefighter is released from duty for 48 hours (2 days). This extended period allows for reduced stress and a well-rested firefighter for the next shift. Because the department operates as private fire company, it is able to provide the communities of Loveland and Symmes Township the highest quality, most cost-effective fire and paramedic services. The private company affords the residents of Loveland and Symmes Township the benefit of full-time, around-the-clock EMS and fire protection while eliminating duplication of fire and EMS equipment and personnel. Furthermore, this allows the department to operate as a streamlined business leading to a reduction in overall costs and an increase in organizational efficiency. The end result is great service and response times that are significantly lower than the industry norm.
The department’s Operations Division is responsible for the day-to-day fire and EMS operations of the department. The Operations Division is responsible for the responding to and addressing the everyday emergency needs of the community. Line firefighters/paramedics provide these services, making the Operations Division the largest component of the fire department. Each one of the three rotating shifts is led by District Fire Chief, who commands and oversees the daily operation of his shift. Company officers (Captains) work in conjunction with the District Fire Chief to ensure effective daily operations of the entire fire district.
City of Loveland and Symmes Township residents are protected by one of the best firefighting agencies in the State of Ohio. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the best, the LSFD boasts an Insurance Services Office (ISO) Public Protection Classification Rating of 2. This rating is shared with fewer than 10 other communities in Ohio. There are no fire departments in Ohio that have the distinction of being rated as a 1. Residents in our fire district experience lower home insurance premiums because of this excellent ISO rating.
In March 1998, as part of our commitment to maintaining outstanding operations, the Loveland-Symmes Fire Department earned Emergency Medical Services (EMS) accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services (CAAS). Accreditation through CAAS signifies that an EMS provider offers the “gold standard” of service as has been determined by the ambulance industry to be essential for the provision of quality service by a modern EMS provider. These standards exceed state and local regulations. Earning accreditation through CAAS is no easy task. The first step to accreditation included a comprehensive self-assessment to compare the LSFD with national standards and to determine whether the department was ready to begin the accreditation process. In order to meet the high standards established by CAAS for quality assurance, LSFD made significant improvements in departmental operations. Existing EMS policies and procedures were updated and personnel training problems were adjusted to place more emphasis on safety. “The good news for LSFD customers is that by voluntarily seeking accreditation, we were able to take our paramedic service to a whole new level of excellence,” explained then-Fire Chief James Hunter. The LSFD is the first private fire and EMS department in the United States to achieve this accreditation and remains the only EMS provider in the State of Ohio to be accredited by CAAS. To insure that accredited agencies continue to provide a high level of service, CAAS requires the LSFD to renew their accreditation every four years. After an extensive review and site visit, CAAS re-accredited the LSFD in 2001, 2004, 2008, and 2012. The department is currently in the process of being reviewed again to maintain this prestigious accreditation.
Additional services provided by the Operations Division include heavy rescue, confined space rescue, dive rescue, hazardous materials response, a paramedic bike program, annual fire hydrant maintenance, and a host of fire prevention and public education programs. Fire prevention is emphasized through safety programs in the schools, regular fire drills, and inspections of commercial properties, multi-family dwellings and places of public assembly.
The Training Division of the Loveland- Symmes Fire Department provides training support services to the department staff, as well as coordinates joint training opportunities with our neighboring communities’ emergency service agencies. The Training Division is tasked with staff development and enrichment duties, such as assisting our EMT’s with enrollment in an accredited paramedic school. The Training Division also provides maintenance services such as continuing emergency medical education to assist our EMT’s and paramedics in meeting all national and state mandated requirements for recertification. LSFD members attend monthly shift drills where the entire department comes together to train on fire and EMS topics. Company officers are tasked with conducting daily training within their stations on their respective shifts.
The Fleet Maintenance Division maintains our fleet in-house by completing jobs such as oil changes, complete vehicle lubrication, brake relining, general engine repairs and diagnosis, and electrical wiring and repair needs. Fleet Maintenance is also responsible for maintaining all of our power tools, smoke ejectors, Hurst® tools, and cutting saws. This allows for a quicker turn-around time for equipment repairs as we do not have to wait on a repair facility to complete the work for us. We have several employees, who over the years have been able to save our department time and money by performing both regular maintenance and preventative maintenance on a regular basis. The Fleet Maintenance Division does minor repairs and major rebuilds at our maintenance building (located at Station 60) along with providing fire and EMS coverage at the same time. In fact, Captain Chip Poppe, our Chief Engineer/Mechanic, built our mini-pumper at Station 60.
In 1999, a non-emergency public safety dispatch center (Northeast Communications) was added to better serve Loveland and Symmes Township. The center, staffed by certified telecommunicators, originally handled calls that did not require an immediate response, such as police reports, vehicle lockouts, fire and crime prevention, minor auto accidents, and minor illnesses or injuries. Since its inception, Northeast Communications has added the capability to answer 911 calls and now handles emergency dispatching for the LSFD.
“When you think of how we’ve evolved in serving our communities, it’s amazing,” says Deputy Chief Andrew Knapp. “We’ve evolved from having funeral directors donating old cots and allowing us to use hearses to carry out our wounded firemen during emergencies to becoming highly-trained emergency workers relied upon by the community in time of need,” continued Knapp. “It’s all about reaching the community,” said Knapp. Once we reach the community, it’s all about the training and equipment. Our firefighter/EMT’s must complete 240 hours of fire training and over 120 hours of basic emergency medical training before they are allowed to respond to any emergency. After completing this initial training and gaining some experience, our firefighters receive additional training in areas such as specialized rescue, hazardous materials response, and fire prevention activities. Furthermore, highly trained paramedics must now complete over 1,800 hours of training before providing advanced medical care. “Our people who go out on those runs, they care about the person placing that call, they know how important it is to everyone involved,” concluded Chief Knapp. And where better to house those people than a department historically dedicated to serving the future.