Wednesday, June 8, 2011

CIP Comparison - Fire


The CIP consists of two portions: the capital improvements program (CIP) and the other capital expenditures program (OCEP).The CIP is primarily made up of land acquisition, infrastructure improvements such as streets and utilities, acquisition or construction of buildings, and other improvements to facilities or property such as parks. The OCEP is comprised of vehicles and capital equipment.


The current plan cuts Fire's 5 year CIP plan by $858,920. Fire's 5 year OCEP plan was cut by $590,591.

In Plan Year 2011, Fire's capital projects were cut over last year's plan by $3,420,683. The significant change for 2011 was related to Project #017015, the construction of Fire Station #11 in the southeast portion of the city to be located at 41st Street and Powder House Road. This fire station was already delayed a year in last year's plan. It was supposed to be built this year. This year's plan moved it out to 2013. In addition, $400,000 for land acquisition for future fire stations was cut in 2011 and moved out to 2013 and reduced by $20,000.

Building new fire stations means a significant impact on costs to the general fund for personnel and benefit costs. Moving these projects out to 2013 and beyond means they will compete for precious dollars in both CIP and general fund dollars with the new event center. Who do you think will win?

Previous Fire Chief Donn Hill was a visionary leader and was very well schooled on forecasting the need for land acquisition and capital needs relating to fire station coverage in the city.  Let's hope the new fire chief is up to the challenge. It looks like he has his work cut out for him in representing the needs of city fire protection.


  1. In this day and age of cell phones and modern technology, why does it take a fire truck with 4-5 fireman to buy groceries????? One person could easily use a car and still be able to get to a emergency. Gas can't be cheap for the trucks, not to mention that the truck at the grocery store is not further from their area of operation.

  2. Jennifer's MusingsJune 8, 2011 at 8:03 AM

    A little firehouse 101: They have to stock the fire station because they live there 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When they need groceries, they must travel as a unit because they are always on call for a 911 emergency. A fire truck cannot leave the station without its full unit. They are on duty every moment in a 24 hour cycle. It may seem excessive, but it is necessary. They must drop everything when the unit receives a call, even if they are in a grocery store.

  3. Does anyone think Chief Hill's retirement was in any way connected to this cut in funding?

    He certainly doesn't look that old.

  4. Another possibility of why the Community might want to delay the construction of a new station at Powderhouse Road is just simply that the Market has changed significantly in the last four years. Things have slowed down. Might not even end up being the right spot for it.

    And, we do have a great Fire and Police Department. But, we can still not give them a blank check. We must try to be Smart.

  5. Does anyone think Chief Hill's retirement was in any way connected to this cut in funding?

    The first time he...."retired", or the second time?


  6. Jennifer's MusingsJune 8, 2011 at 4:44 PM

    When Chief Hill left the first time, he resigned and elected to defer his fire pension because he was not eligible to retire yet. He did not draw a pension. His second employment stint did not afford him the ability to vest in the Employees Retirement System because he needed to work 5 years. I don't know if he is age eligible yet to draw a fire pension.

  7. Thanks Jennifer. Clears that one up. One other thing I'm curious about. Actually a couple. But I'll get to my other point later. I often wondered this. I used to live across the street from a retirement community. As you can imagine, the place had a higher than normal 911 emergency calls placed to it. On many occasions I seen both a metro ambulance and fire rescue truck show up together. Why do two emergency responder units show up for the same event? I do know ambulance services charge a kings ransom to insurance companies for their service. Does a city firetruck responding to an emergency call charge for their service, and if they do, and a ambulance with paramedics is also there, do they both issue claims to insurance companies?


  8. Jennifer's MusingsJune 8, 2011 at 10:36 PM

    Sioux Falls Fire Rescue is the first responder on 911 Emergency calls. Firefighters are trained EMT's and provide initial emergency medical treatment until Rural Metro Ambulance reaches the scene. The city does not charge for this service. Nor does the fire department issue claims to insurance companies. It is a tax supported department in the general operating fund.

  9. Thanks again Jennifer. Was always kinda' curious on that one.

    There is a delicate balance between what we as taxpayers need, and what we can afford. Firefighters are a good example. I'm glad you used the Fire Department as your first in your department by department breakdown. I live in an area protected by volunteer firefighters. Am I comfortable with that? Yes I am. They work hard and know there job. I also know EMT's working for ambulance companies do not make a fraction of what a Sioux Falls firefighter makes. Should a EMT working for an ambulance company be more fairly compensated? Prolly. Case in point.

    Right now we have 194 city firefighters who are budgeted $12,680,832 in basic salary for 2011. That's an average of $65,365 per employee. Seems fair enough considering their job. But what sets it apart? Pension sets it apart. Add another $4,090,267 of taxpayer dollars to fund it. That's another $21,083 per year per employee. Heck, that's more than a whole lot of jobs in this town pay in basic salary. Add another over $2,000,000 in fringe benefits and the average of all 194 SF firefighters is $98,050 per man. Sustainable? Be nice if it were. But it is not. In just three years with the same amount of personnal the department has swelled from a little over $16,000,000 a year to over $19,000,000 a year in employee compensation. Unsustainable, especially in a city where the median income of Joe SixPack hovers at $14.00 an hour.

    All numbers as per the city 2011 budget.