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Community Vista

Standards of Cover still in review process

VISTA — The most recent Standards of Cover were presented by fire Chief Ned Vander Pol at the Vista Fire Protection District’s Aug. 9 meeting. The comprehensive report helps develop a community risk reduction plan.

Vander Pol told the Vista Fire Protection District’s board of directors that the meeting’s SOC discussion item would be an overview as they had seen a PowerPoint presentation a couple of times already.

Vander Pol said that the first SOC was put into place in 2008.

“The goal is just to have a document there that dictates and identifies, starting at the beginning of what our risks and hazards are and then making sure that we are applying resources to mitigate those hazards,” he said. “We’re living in the city, and we know what our hazards and risks are, so we don’t buy 17 fire boats — we actually are applying resources appropriately to the risks that we have at hand.”

Vander Pol said the tangible benefits of the document are clear. For example, the Vista Fire Department ended up with Station 5 on South Melrose because a need was identified. The SOC also helped with the restoration of a fourth Advanced Life Support ambulance.

Vander Pol explained that the most recent SOC was created in conjunction with the accreditation the fire department had undergone. 

“We’ll be doing another one of these in a couple of years as we get ready to do another accreditation,” he said. “They go hand in hand — you can’t have the accreditation without the Standards of Cover.”

He did point out that they did complete a Standards of Cover before without the accreditation, but that was for the sole purpose of getting a baseline of information as a starting point.

Vander Pol wanted everyone to know that from a practical standpoint, the SOC is a document that can be looked at historically to make sure the fire department is tracking in the right direction. And if for some reason this is not the case, they can identify the issue and offer solutions to mitigate the situation, such as adding resources. Vander Pol used the fourth ALS ambulance as an example, explaining that those tracking results will be revealed over time. 

According to Vander Pol, the SOC offers a good strategic plan for the organization.

“You get a good idea of where this organization has been and then where we hope to go in the future,” he said. “The critical task analysis is a big part of what we look at.”

The SOC also has baseline and benchmarks for the tasks the fire department takes on such as EMS, fire and hazardous materials.

Additionally, Vander Pol explained that there is a correlation between the city of Vista and the Vista Fire Protection District.

“The district and the city have to approve this document,” he said, noting that there has to be parity between any changes that occur in the city or the district. “So, if response times are going up in the district, they can’t be disproportionate to what’s happening in the city.”

The SOC contains the breakdown of the data between the city and district, Vander Pol said.

Vista Fire Protection District Director Robert Fougner commended the team who put the SOC together because of the enormous wealth of information. He then asked about the rural area response time. The neighborhoods in Vista are divided by urban, suburban and rural.

In Fougner’s opinion, the rural response times had gone up and he wanted to know more about that.

Vander Pol explained that there had not been a divergence in service or even the response time.

“The reason is that those boundaries changed, so that sample size for the rural has gone down tremendously, so the suburban has picked up more of those rural calls,” Vander Pol said. “So now the calls that we’re getting in the rural area are the really far away ones.”

Vander Pol said that he would be sure to present more data to clarify this.

The district board told Vander Pol that would be helpful and members said they were looking forward to this supporting documentation at the next meeting.

1 comment

Lorie Johansen September 15, 2017 at 9:00 am


I have shared your article with the community on Elevado Road which is in the district. There are 181 homes that rely on good response times for medical and fire service. This year, my dear friend had the scare of her life when her husband had a stroke in their home. If it had not been for an excellent response time, he may not be with us today.

We are concerned that response times will increase as more development of vacant land happens without significant road improvement on East Vista Way.

Thank you for your continued coverage of the fire board meetings. We need to be aware of what is going on. Fire season is all year and we know that many of our resources are elsewhere in the U.S. aiding those in hurricane and fire disasters.

Lorie Johansen

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