Although Tommy Smith had been in charge of a fire department three times as big as the Redmond Fire Department (RFD) before coming to the city, the new fire chief’s workload has not changed much.
The former interim fire chief for the Colorado Springs Fire Department in Colorado Springs, Colo. said going from a department with 21 fire stations and almost 500 employees to one with only seven stations and about 160 employees has not changed how busy his job keeps him.
“What I’m finding out is the load and the pace is just as fast,” Smith said about coming to the City of Redmond.
Smith, who has been at work for a little more than two weeks, said things in Redmond are a little bit more complex than in Colorado Springs because it is more of a regional approach to emergency response. Collaborating with and supporting agencies from other jurisdictions adds another layer of complexity to the job that he didn’t have in Colorado Springs, where that city was bigger and had more resources to respond to an emergency without the assistance of other agencies unless it was on a larger scale or on the outskirts of town.
Smith has spent part of his time going out to all of the fire stations in town to meet his employees, introduce himself and discuss his expectations with them.
“It’s been great,” he said about meeting all the different crews.
Smith has been to all seven stations but not all of the shifts, so he still hasn’t met everyone from the RFD.
As the new fire chief, Smith said his mission is to make sure his decisions are driven by what is best for the organization and the people in it. He said his first priority is to ensure the department is able to do things and have the resources and training to accomplish the department’s goals of ensuring life safety, incident stability and property conservation when responding to emergencies.
Smith, who has been a firefighter for 22 years, has also been working with Redmond Police Chief Ron Gibson on a public safety strategic plan for the city. The plan will act as a guide with goals for what they aim to provide for the community as the public safety branch of Redmond’s government.
Jeri Rowe-Curtis, chief communications officer for the City of Redmond, said while fire and police have distinct functions within the community, they also have similar functions in solving problems, public safety and protecting the community.
“I think having a shared vision for that strategic plan…makes sense,” she said. “Coordination makes sense, because though the tactics are different for police and fire, the ‘all-hazards’ approach for Redmond means that both departments have a significant and coordinated role in keeping the community safe.”
Rowe-Curtis said this is the fire department’s master plan that goes back to 1990, but the police department has not had one before this. So in addition to a first-time partnership between the two departments, this is also a first-time plan for the police department. Another first is the city’s Planning Department helping the two chiefs on the plan on a consulting basis.