NSVFA and the Nebraska Fire Chiefs Association is excited to announce that your 2017 membership drive is now open!

JOIN TODAY. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. ENROLLMENT IS EASY:

100% Departments
$20 per membership
Annual Membership
Departments that are enrolling ALL of their members. Membership includes ALL NSVFA benefits including Fire School discount, Advocacy, Insurance, partner discounts and more. 100% departments may add members at anytime – for their cost of those memberships.
Get Started

Member Only Departments
$110 for the department and chief
Annual Membership
$20 for each additional member
Departments that are enrolling ONLY their department and their chief. This chief is the only one that receives NSVFA benefits, however Member Only Departments can add members for $20 each UNTIL Dec. 31st. Members would receive benefits.
Get Started

Fire Chiefs Association
$20 per Fire Chiefs membership
Annual Membership
The Nebraska Fire Chiefs Association supports the fire service through training, advocacy, networking, scholarships and leadership. Several officers can join. Memberships include Active and Associate memberships.

Get Started

The Volunteer Emergency Responders Incentive Act

I have received several calls regarding how to receive the $250 tax credit.

It appears that Weston Volunteer Fire & Rescue has created and shared an example that your dept. can use.

Tax Credit Excel Tracking Sheet

There is also one that was developed in Word format that I also found on the Nebraska State Fire Fighter’s Association website.

Word Tracking Sheet

For more specific information please consider reaching out to the association.

NSVFA webpage on the Tax Credit

Micheal Dwyer – Secretary / Treasurer
Nebraska State Volunteer Firefighter’s Association
340 West Eagle Suite 103, Arlington NE 68992
T: 800-642-6024 / O: 402-478-4881

Strategic Planning for Public Entities

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Citizens who serve on a governmental board generally have a desire to serve the public interest. In small communities, some agree to serve due to realization that there are a lack of volunteers agreeing to do so, and a vast amount of work to be done. These volunteers rarely have an over abundance of additional time to serve on these boards.  This makes it imperative that the time spent be as productive as possible.  How can this be accomplished?  Your entity needs a Strategic Plan!  It will help you have unity prioritizing the challenges the board will be handling. It will also help set the course for new board members who fill vacating positions. This will save time and help give confidence to new board members, as well as give a clear way to measure the progress of a government.

How to get started?  See below taken from Municipal Research and Services Center website. (link is below)

Review or adopt a mission statement, develop a vision for the future of the county or city, adopt goals, objectives, and measureable deliverables. The end result is the development of a 10-20 year strategic plan, subject to periodic review and updating. The key elements are:

  1. Strengths and Weaknesses: Review the strengths and weaknesses of the jurisdiction, and develop a preliminary understanding as to where the county or city should concentrate efforts to address its deficiencies and build upon its strengths. This presentation should be delivered by the chief administrative officer of the jurisdiction; the chair of the board of county commissioners or the mayor.
  2. Stakeholder Input: Receive a summary of the input from the citizenry or major stakeholders regarding their perceptions relating to the future directions of the county or city. This will validate the importance of the role of these groups as well as reinforce the connection between the elected officials and their constituencies.
  3. Mission Statement: Most counties and larger cities have a mission statement that reads something like “it is the mission of XYZ County to provide a safe and secure environment, encourage balanced economic growth, protect the environment, and nurture the provision of responsive services so as to ensure a high quality of life for its citizenry,” or a variation thereof. The mission statement outlines and defines the aspirations of the jurisdiction in the context of its overall responsibilities. It is basically a statement of priorities for addressing the needs of its constituents. The mission statement sets the frame of reference for establishing the county or city’s vision for the future as well as its goals and objectives. While the mission statement can be altered over time, it is in fact the jurisdiction’s statement of purpose.
  4. Vision: A major strategic planning element of a retreat is to define a vision for the future. That vision normally reflects the strengths and weaknesses of the county or city, changing conditions, and evolving constituent/stakeholder expectations. Examples of vision elements might include, the desire for a more economically diverse population; reduced congestion and single occupant vehicle usage; increased commercial and economic activity; increased financial sustainability, and encouragement of more healthy lifestyles. The vision basically defines the character of the jurisdiction that the elected officials and its stakeholders feel should be achieved at some point in the future. Each of those elements feed back to the mission statement and reflects the consensus of the elected officials regarding their jurisdiction’s future.
  5. Goals: For each element of the vision, the elected officials should develop specific goals. If, for example, the vision is to encourage a more economically diverse population, addressing the needs of those with a more moderate incomes, then a number of specific goals can be defined. Those goals might include incentives for lower cost housing, encouragement of increased lower wage employment opportunities, increased availability of social services, etc. Each of these goals taken separately contribute to achieving a specific element of the vision. Individually they may not encourage the desired outcome, but collectively they can, if achieved, bring about the end result.
  6. Objectives: The objectives are those elements that bring about achievement of the goal. If for instance the goal is to encourage an increased supply of affordable housing, the objective might be achieved by zoning changes that allow higher level multi-family housing in exchange for a given percentage of affordable housing units, or smaller lot residential developments to accommodate smaller  and more affordable homes, zoning for mobile home parks, or even taxation concessions.

If you have questions or want help getting started, please feel free to give me a call.

Charting Your Future Part 2: Conducting a Strategic Planning Retreat

 

Perspectives on Strategic Planning in the Public Sector

Making Strategic Planning Work

 

Is it covered?

I get questions often about coverages on insurance policies. Often times the answer is simple. Especially if the question has to do with Property Coverage.  There are details clearly spelled out in the policy that explain the terms of coverage.  Such as, the deductible, limits, causes of loss etc.   However, the questions that I get most often have to do with liability. These questions are not as cut and dry. 1st off, just because there is a claimant who says an entity is responsible, does not mean that they public entity IS responsible.  Who decides?  Not the carrier, not the insured, the courts decide.  A general liability policy normally promises to pay DAMAGES for bodily injury or property damage that the named insured is legally liable for. That is determined by a court.

Laws give additional protections to public entities above and beyond what are offered to a private citizen or business. Please see an outline of those protections below.

NEBRASKA SCOPE OF GOVERNMENT IMMUNITY

For claims Against State: State Tort Claims Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. § 81-8,209 et seq.

  •  The State is liable in the same manner and to the same extent as a private individual. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 81-8,215.
  • Limitations on State liability are listed at Neb. Rev. Stat. § 81-8,219.

For claims Against Political Subdivisions: Political Subdivisions Tort Act, Neb. Rev.Stat § 13-901 et seq.

  • Subdivisions are liable in the same manner and to the same extent as a private individual. Neb. Rev. Stat § 13-908.
  •  Limitations on Political Subdivision liability are listed in Neb. Rev. Stat. § 13-910.

NOTICE AND FILING REQUIREMENTS

For claims against the State:

  • All tort claims filed with the Risk Manager as prescribed by the State Claims Board. Neb.. Rev. Stat. § 81-8,212.
  • No suit shall be permitted unless the Risk Manager or State Claims Board has made final disposition of the claim, except that if the Risk Manager or board does not make final disposition of a claim within 6 months after the claim is made in writing and filed with the Risk Manager in the manner prescribed by the board, the claimant may, by notice in writing, withdraw the claim from consideration of the Risk Manager or board and begin suit under such act. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 81-8,213.
  • Claims must be to the Risk Manager within 2 years of accrual. The time to begin suit is extended by 6 months from the date of mailing of notice to the claimant by the Risk Manager or State Claims Board as to the final disposition of the claim or from the date of withdrawal of the claim under section 81-8,213 if the time to begin suit would otherwise expire before the end of such period. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 81-8,227.

For claims against Political Subdivisions:

  • Notice of claim to governing body within 1 year of accrual. Suit filed within 2 years of accrual. The time to file suit is extended 6 months from the date of mailing of notice to the claimant by the governing body as to the final disposition of the claim or from the date of withdrawal of the claim from the governing body under section 13- 906 if the time to begin suit would otherwise expire before the end of such period. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 13-919.
  • No suit shall be permitted under the Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act unless the governing body of the political subdivision has made final disposition of the claim, except that if the governing body does not make final disposition of a claim within six months after it is filed, the claimant may, by notice in writing, withdraw the claim from consideration of the governing body and begin suit under such act and sections. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 13-906.

DAMAGE LIMITATION

  • For claims against Political Subdivisions: $1,000,000 per person and $5,000,000 per occurrence. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 13-926.

JURISDICTIONS COMPARATIVE CHART

Suits Against Public Entities For Injury or Wrongful Death Pose Varying Procedural Hurdles

Risk management for volunteer fire departments

Introduction
Volunteer fire departments (VFDs) are primarily comprised of volunteers who are trained in firefighting and other related emergency services for a local town or jurisdiction. These volunteers take on what can be a life-threatening job whenever responding to an emergency call. They regularly put themselves in harm’s way in an effort to save people
and property in their communities. Whether fighting to extinguish a fire or responding to an emergency call such as an automobile accident, hazmat situation or other emergency, firefighters are exposed to a number of health and safety hazards. Being aware of these hazards and knowing how to mitigate them can help reduce the frequency and severity of injuries, as well as save lives.
Burns, smoke inhalation and other fire-related injuries are commonly reported; however, firefighters also are exposed to health hazards such as strains and sprains, stress-related conditions, and cardiovascular events. The majority of
injuries are minor; however, a significant number can be debilitating or career-ending.
The link below will walk you through some common risks facing firefighters, and it will provide suggestions on
how to reduce injuries, minimize the severity, and provide effective post-injury management.

Risk management for volunteer fire departments

Responsibilities of the Rural Fire Protection District Board of Directors

As a member of the Rural Fire Protection District Board of Directors, you are one of five people responsible for providing district residents with the best fire protection the district can afford. It is the board’s responsibility to see that members of your volunteer fire  department(s) have the proper equipment and training necessary to serve district residents.

Powers and Responsibilities of the Rural Fire Protection District Board of Directors

  • The Rural Fire Protection District Board of Directors was created by Nebraska State Statutes 35-501 through 35-536 RRS 1943. Statute 35-506 states that the district will be governed by a board of five members, all residents of the district. The board will consist of a president, vice-president, secretary/treasurer and two directors. These offices are re-organized annually. Board members serve four-year terms.
  • Nebraska Statute 35-508 specifically details the powers and responsibilities of the Rural Fire Protection District Board of Directors. Briefly this statute states that each board will have the following general powers:

(1)To determine a general fire  protection and rescue program for the district;
(2)To make an annual estimate of the… expense for carrying out such program;
(3)To annually certify such estimate to the county clerk . . . ;
(4)To manage and conduct the business affairs of the district;
(5)To make and execute contracts in the name of and on behalf of the district;
(6)To buy . . . and to sell real estate on behalf of the district . . .;
(7)To purchase or lease such firefighting and rescue equipment, supplies, and other real or personal property as necessary . . . to carry out the general fire  protection and rescue program of the district;
(8)To incur indebtedness . . . ;
(9)To authorize the issuance of evidences of the indebtedness permitted … and to pledge any real or personal property owned . . . by the district as security for the same;
(10)To organize, establish, equip, maintain, and supervise a paid, volunteer, or combination paid and volunteer fire  department . . . to serve the district;
(11)To employ . . . such personnel as necessary to carry out the general fire  protection and rescue program of the district;
(12)To authorize . . . a contract with the Game and Parks Commission or a public power district for fire  protection of property . . . located in or adjacent to the rural or suburban fire  protection district;
(13)To levy a tax not to exceed 10½ cents on each $100 in any one year upon the taxable value of all taxable property within the district…, in addition to the amount of tax which may be annually levied to defray the general and incidental expenses of such district, for the purpose of establishing a sinking fund for the construction, purchase, improvement, extension, original equipment, or repair, not including maintenance, of district buildings to house equipment or personal belongings of a fire  department, for the purchase of firefighting and rescue equipment or apparatus, for the acquisition of any land incidental to such purposes, or for payment of principal and interest on any evidence of indebtedness issued . . .;
(14)To adopt and enforce fire  codes and establish penalties at annual meetings . . . ; and
(15)Generally to perform all acts necessary to fully carry out the purposes of sections 35-501 to 35-517.”

Effective Management

To perform their duties effectively, board members should understand the two forms of management practiced by many boards.

Under a reactive management style, a board acts impulsively and does not consider the long-term consequences of its actions. Reactive boards usually fail to make the best use of its resources and meet the desires of the taxpayers.

Operating under a proactive management style, a board takes the needs and desires of its district’s residents very seriously. A proactive board develops long-range plans that consider the implications of their actions. It chooses priorities and makes decisions very carefully. Proactive management is the most successful and cost-effective form of management.

Master Planning

Fire district budgets must be approved by the county board, so it is imperative that the board has a long-range plan in place for future district needs. This is accomplished by developing a Fire Protection Master Plan.

The preparation of a Fire Protection Master Plan is a proactive step that allows a board to determine what course(s) of action will provide its district the best long-term fire protection. Additional information about master planning is available the Nebraska Forest Service publication Community Fire Protection Master Planning.  http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nebforestpubs/51/

Fire Prevention

The best type of fire protection is fire prevention. An effective fire prevention program can accomplish this. An effective fire prevention program can decrease annual fire losses, so these types of programs are a wise investment.

Fire Suppression

Fire prevention will only eliminate a portion of fires, so each district must have the necessary fire suppression equipment. A fire  department, regardless of the amount of training, cannot perform at 100 percent without adequate equipment. It is the responsibility of the board to see that the fire fighters have the equipment necessary to do their job. This equipment benefits everyone who lives in and passes through the district, not just the firefighters.

This post is taken from a publication by the Nebraska Forest Service

http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1066&context=nebforestpubs

John Erixson
Deputy Director of the Nebraska Forest Service
T: 402-472-2944
E:jerixson2@unl.edu

Nebraska Forestry Hall
P.O. Box 830815
Lincoln, NE 68583-0815
(402) 472-2944
(402) 472-2964 (FAX)
http://www.nfs.unl.edu

Risk Management: Snow Plow Safety

By Laura Peterson of OBGR

Snow removal is a part of almost every public entity operation – at least those located in cold weather climates. Keeping your public streets, sidewalks and parking lots clear of snow and ice throughout the winter is vital to reducing your risk for complaints and claims. Below are three reminders to keep your snow plow drivers prepared:

  1. Training:

All snow plow operators should be properly trained prior to snow season. Various training methods include classroom training, hands-on training, simulator training and computer-based training. The training should include knowledge of the equipment and snow routes. Being familiar with the equipment and routes does not only improve safety for the public, but can increase the longevity of the snow plow.

Have each driver travel their snow plow route in good weather conditions to reduce the risks involved with operating equipment in inclement weather. By doing so, drivers can become familiar with areas of high foot traffic, physical hazards, conditions that could cause an accident or areas that could damage the snow plow. Other areas of concern may be areas where there is not adequate clearance for the snow plow or intersections that have limited visibility. Although caution should always be used when driving a snow plow, extra caution may be needed in the areas listed above.

Consider enrolling your road crews in LocalGovU’s “Snow and Ice Management” course. If you are an active policy holder with OneBeacon Government Risks, this course may be complimentary.

  1. Snow Plow Inspections:

To avoid breakdowns and accidents, inspections of all snow plows before usage should be completed. Consider creating a checklist that can be used to inspect all snow plows before road use. This will allow you to perform any needed maintenance prior to a winter storm warning. For a sample checklist, view the Iowa State University Institute for Transportation Local Roads Maintenance Workers’ Manual – Appendix C.

  1. Driver Safety:

The operation of motor vehicles exposes your public entity to possible financial loss through damaged property, injury to employees and/or injury to members of the general public. This risk is increased when you introduce larger equipment into inclement weather creating poor driving conditions. So, in order mitigate some of the risk, ensure you adopt and implement a driver safety plan. See our Fleet Safety Guide, for a sample program that can easily be adapted specifically for snow plow drivers.

Tips for Drivers:

  • Come to work properly clothed.
  • Always get a good night’s rest before operating a vehicle.
  • If you begin to feel fatigued, take a break!
  • Never operate a snow plow while under the influence.
  • Drive with caution and choose an appropriate speed.
  • Be considerate of other motorists.
  • Obey all traffic laws.
  • Be brief when using the radio. Report all emergencies and/or stranded vehicles.
  • Avoid backing up unless absolutely necessary.
  • When exiting the snow plow, always set the brakes and turn the power to the machine off.

– See more at: http://blog.onebeacongov.com/2017/01/25/risk-management-snow-plow-safety/#sthash.6Z99HnMn.dpuf

Presumptive Disability Law in Nebraska

35-1001. Death or disability as a result of cancer; death or disability as a result of certain diseases; prima facie evidence.

  1. For a firefighter or firefighter-paramedic who is a member of a paid fire department of a municipality or a rural or suburban fire protection district in this state, including a municipality having a home rule charter or a municipal authority created pursuant to a home rule charter that has its own paid fire department, and who suffers death or disability as a result of cancer, including, but not limited to, cancer affecting the skin or the central nervous, lymphatic, digestive, hematological, urinary, skeletal, oral, or prostate systems, evidence which demonstrates that (a) such firefighter or firefighter-paramedic successfully passed a physical examination upon entry into such service or subsequent to such entry, which examination failed to reveal any evidence of cancer, (b) such firefighter or firefighter-paramedic was exposed to a known carcinogen, as defined on July 19, 1996, by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, while in the service of the fire department, and (c) such carcinogen is reported by the agency to be a suspected or known cause of the type of cancer the firefighter or firefighter-paramedic has, shall be prima facie evidence that such death or disability resulted from injuries, accident, or other cause while in the line of duty for the purposes of sections 16-1020 to 16-1042, a firefighter’s pension plan established pursuant to a home rule charter, and a firefighter’s pension or disability plan established by a rural or suburban fire protection district.
  2. For a firefighter or firefighter-paramedic who is a member of a paid fire department of a municipality or a rural or suburban fire protection district in this state, including a municipality having a home rule charter or a municipal authority created pursuant to a home rule charter that has its own paid fire department, and who suffers death or disability as a result of a blood-borne infectious disease, tuberculosis, meningococcal meningitis, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, evidence which demonstrates that (a) such firefighter or firefighter-paramedic successfully passed a physical examination upon entry into such service or subsequent to such entry, which examination failed to reveal any evidence of such blood-borne infectious disease, tuberculosis, meningococcal meningitis, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and (b) such firefighter or firefighter-paramedic has engaged in the service of the fire department within ten years before the onset of the disease, shall be prima facie evidence that such death or disability resulted from injuries, accident, or other cause while in the line of duty for the purposes of sections 16-1020 to 16-1042, a firefighter’s pension plan established pursuant to a home rule charter, and a firefighter’s pension or disability plan established by a rural or suburban fire protection district.
  3. The prima facie evidence presumed under this section shall extend to death or disability as a result of cancer as described in this section, a blood-borne infectious disease, tuberculosis, meningococcal meningitis, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus after the firefighter or firefighter-paramedic separates from his or her service to the fire department if the death or disability occurs within three months after such separation.
  4. For purposes of this section, blood-borne infectious disease means human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, and all strains of hepatitis.

18-1723. Firefighter; police officer; presumption of death or disability; rebuttable.

Whenever any firefighter who has served a total of five years as a member of a paid fire department of any city in this state or any police officer of any city or village, including any city having a home rule charter, shall suffer death or disability as a result of hypertension or heart or respiratory defect or disease, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that such death or disability resulted from accident or other cause while in the line of duty for all purposes of Chapter 15, article 10, sections 16-1001 to 16-1042, and any firefighter’s or police officer’s pension plan established pursuant to any home rule charter, the Legislature specifically finding the subject of this section to be a matter of general statewide concern. The rebuttable presumption shall apply to death or disability as a result of hypertension or heart or respiratory defect or disease after the firefighter or police officer separates from his or her applicable employment if the death or disability occurs within three months after such separation. Such rebuttable presumption shall apply in any action or proceeding arising out of death or disability incurred prior to December 25, 1969, and which has not been processed to final administrative or judicial conclusion prior to such date.

http://www.iaff.org/hs/phi/state/nebraska.asp?callingPage=Cancer

IAFF Presumptive Cancer Legislation for Professional Fire Fighters: An Act of Fairness (September, 2004)

https://www.iaff.org/et/JobAid/InfDis/IAFF%20-%20An%20Act%20of%20Fairness.pdf

Why your Fire/EMS Dept. needs a Strategic Plan

A strategic plan is a management tool help a department to perform efficiently, safely and consider all potential pitfalls. The plan focuses the energy, resources, and time of everyone on the department in the on a common goal.  The best plans are reviewed and amended on a regular basis.

The plan can be as simple or as complex as you wish to make it. It can always be altered by further leadership.  Start with a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats or SWOT Analysis. The more you revise and the more everyone is on board with the common, prioritized goals, the department should work more smoothly. You may event end the arguments about how “this is how we always do it”  with a reference to such in the strategic plan.

Here are some items found on a strategic plan

Executive Summary
Organizational Background
Organizational Structure
Definition of a Community-Driven Strategic Plan
Process and Acknowledgements
Vision/Mission Statement
Community Group Findings
Community Priorities
Community Expectations
Areas of Community Concern
Positive Community Feedback
Other Thoughts and Comments
Mission
Values
Programs and Services
S.W.O.T. Analysis
Strengths
Weaknesses Opportunities
Threats
Critical Issues and Service Gaps/Opportunities
Strategic Initiatives
Goals and Objectives
Performance Measurement
The Success of the Strategic Plan
Services Provided
Expectations
Goals and Objectives
Feedback
Emergency Services Performance Objectives and targets
Fire and EMS Performance Objectives and targets

Create one and/or review on a regular basis before its too late!

Here is a Youtube video showing a strategic plan working though the thought process.

Here are some examples of other departments strategic plans.

City of Elgin

http://cityofelgin.org/DocumentCenter/View/55810

Seattle

http://www.seattle.gov/fire/deptinfo/StrategicPlan/SFD%20Strategic%20Plan%20for%202012-2017.pdf

St. Cloud

http://www.ci.stcloud.mn.us/DocumentCenter/Home/View/712

Glendale

http://www.glendaleca.gov/home/showdocument?id=500

Clark County

http://www.clarkcountynv.gov/fire/Documents/CCFD%20Annual%20Reports/2013-2017StrategicPlan.pdf