Fire Chief Ray Krakowski said that by its nature a top-to-bottom audit focuses on areas that could be improved, namely long-term planning. He said some of the department’s goals were vague, and that the rules needed to be formalized.
“We had not done long-term planning in the Fire Department for a number of years,” he said. “We were way overdue for a strategic plan.”
The firm solicited information from stakeholders, collected and analyzed data and examined personnel and practices. Of the 64 recommendations in the report, 27 are listed as having been addressed or completed, 27 are in progress and 10 are on hold pending an economic rebound.
The Burbank Fire Department, which must cut more than $1 million from its budget, will again face questions about maintaining essential services.
At the same time, the audit identified several possible improvements that have been put on hold due to budgetary constraints, including reestablishing a self-inspection program, expanding public education to include kindergarten through 12th grade, and expanding rescue ambulance capability at Fire Stations 12 and 14.
“To me, the thing to look at is you can put together the most inclusive master plan to look at the future — except if the economy doesn’t turn around, we’ll be in a siege mentality,” said Capt. Lew Stone, president of Burbank Firefighters Local 778. “We’re a victim to this economy and until we pull out of it, we can’t really set a master plan down and say, ‘Here we go.’”
Other recommendations in the report, which was reviewed by the City Council, are expected to be handled as part of the department’s strategic plan, Krakowski said, including the adoption of a code of ethics and possibly creating a citizen advisory group. Officials could also adopt a security plan that would include police patrols of vacant buildings, perimeter fencing, video cameras, and updated access controls, according to the report.