The Coast News Group

Vista Fire Department gets proactive with its community

VISTA — During a three-day series of round robin discussions, a diverse group of the Vista community convened with all rank and file of the Vista Fire Department, a five-year Strategic Plan, for 2015 to 2020, was hashed out.

The purpose of the plan: concentrate resources while diminishing risk and unproductive efforts; maintain continuous improvement for a justifiable and sustainable future.

The City Council voted unanimously last week to approve the plan and its principal tenets.

As outlined in the 2015 Vista Fire Department Strategic Plan those tenets include: improving and enhancing internal communications, enhance and implement outreach programs to meet the needs and expectations of the community.

Develop an effective program of optimal employee staffing to ensure the safety of those we serve and their evolving needs. Retain a highly trained and experienced workforce. Enhance the professional development of staff members.

Improve and develop training of the Vista Fire Department.

Institute a process to forecast the needs of evolving the community and address those needs through sustainable programs.

“We look at all goals equally with the expectation that they are all attainable within the five year period,” Fire Chief Rick Minnick, said. “I would say my personal favorites would be to enhance our community outreach and several of the goals that involve firefighter safety.

“I can see challenges for the department associated with the potential for significant costs to support additional staffing as the need approaches,” he added.

Challenged by public demand that continues to be on the rise, while funding and other resources diminish, fire department services are requiring constant vigilance to develop ways toward continued community happiness and safety.

The 2015 Strategic Plan is a resource the department now has to establish direction based on constructive dynamic efforts while eliminating programs that do not serve the community.

“All the objectives for goal attainment have been assigned to specific staff members to create ownership,” Minnick said. “The department is tracking progress and timelines for completion. The plan also allows for some level of flexibility to make sure we are not missing new challenges along the way.”

When the Vista community was asked to prioritize “services most desired,” of that list the top three were emergency medical services, fire suppression, and rescue both basic and technical.

“The Vista Fire Department has always received strong support from the community,” Minnick said. “Once again the support shows through, as we received many volunteers from the area for our external stakeholder group. This group played a key role in the development of the Community-Driven Strategic Plan. Their inputs helped pave the way for the plan which defines our goals, vision, core values and mission through the year 2020.”

The Vista Fire Department encompasses an 86-member department delivering emergency response and service programs to a combined population of 115,569 covering a 38 square mile area.