On Dec. 9 the Westfield Fire Department consulting committee held its initial meeting at Eason Hall. The committee was formed under the direction and leadership of Village of Westfield Mayor Mike VandeVelde.
The committee consists of members of the Westfield Fire Department, the Westfield Board of Fire Commissioners, representatives from both the Village and Town of Westfield Boards, as well as members of the community with experience in organizational leadership.
The Village of Westfield board retained the services of an experienced consultant to steer the committee toward its goal of ensuring that the residents of the village and town of Westfield would continue to receive an optimum level of firefighting and emergency medical services from the Westfield Fire Department.
The consultant, Linda Willing, has an extensive background in emergency services. Linda was a career firefighter and officer in the state of Colorado for 18 years and has 20 years of experience working as a consultant and trainer for fire departments across the United States and Canada. Linda has worked with agencies of all sizes from small, all-volunteer organizations to the New York City and City of Los Angeles Fire Departments.
Ms. Willing's purpose in working with the committee was to help its members clearly define problems and challenges facing the organization and then guide the committee in reaching consensus on specifically how those problems and issues should be addressed.
Additional information concerning Ms. Willing's background and company can be obtained by accessing her company's website at www.rwtraining.com.
The initial committee meeting was held in two parts. The first part focused on raising issues and defining any problems that currently exist in the overall fire department operation. The committee spent considerable time examining the function, structure, leadership and relationships that exist within the Westfield Fire Department, as well as the Fire Department's relationship with external stakeholders.
The second part of the committee meeting focused on developing solutions and strategies to address these challenges.
The committee identified a number of challenges that will be the focus of follow-up meetings and workshops. Some of those challenges include recruitment and retention of personnel, training of fire department personnel, response times, communication issues between the Westfield Board of Fire Commissioners and the Westfield Fire Department, department budget, and fundraising and financial practices of the Fire Department including the relationship and role of the Westfield Firemen's Exempt Association.
The Westfield Fire Department consulting committee is united in its efforts to address these organizational challenges and is confident in its ability to recommend best practices to the Fire Department during this period of organizational change.
The Westfield Fire Department has a long history of tradition and exceptional service to the community over many generations. The below listed members of the committee look forward to working with the Fire Department to further strengthen its core mission of protecting the lives and property of all who live, work and visit the village and town of Westfield.
The next meeting of the committee is scheduled for Feb. 19 at 6 p.m. at Eason Hall, 23 Elm Street, Westfield.
Michael VandeVelde - Village of Westfield Mayor
Martha Bills- Town of Westfield Supervisor
David Brown- Town of Westfield Board
Robert Cochran- Village of Westfield Board
Deb Puckhaber- Village of Westfield Trustee / Board of Fire Commissioners
Brenda Steele- Community Member
Cheryl Smith- Westfield Fire Department (Cascade Hose Company)
Lyle Holland- Westfield Fire Department (Hook and Ladder Company)
Cliff Brown- Westfield Fire Department (Citizen's Hose Company)
William Bills- Westfield Fire Department (First Assistant Chief)
Jud Storms- Westfield Fire Department (Captain)
Ed Kneer- Westfield Fire Department (Past Chief's Association)
Father Albert Clody - Chaplain/Westfield Fire Department
Barry Underwood- Chair/Westfield Board of Fire Commissioners
Tom Tarpley- Community Member