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Change, improved efficiency in Victoria Fire Department's future

By ALLISON MILES
Aug. 10, 2011 at 3:10 a.m.

Tanner Drake

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Visit the Victoria Fire Department's site: victoriatx.org/fire/index.asp.

Change and improved efficiency are coming to the Victoria Fire Department, Chief Taner Drake said.

"I want us to be able to answer the call to service in this community, no matter what it is," he said.

Drake spoke Wednesday at the Victoria Chamber of Commerce's August luncheon, which took place at the Victoria College Student Center.

A new assistant chief of operations, and an EMS supervisor, will soon join the force, Drake said. He said he also encouraged his staff to think outside the box when it came to solving problems, such as the fact that 40 percent of the time, the department finds itself running out of ambulances.

Recruitment and retention is another thing the department will focus on.

The department developed an aggressive EMS incentive package to recruit people from Victoria, he said, noting Crossroads residents have family and roots already settled in town. Those from larger cities are more likely to return to those cities soon after training.

The department expects Victoria's new standardized insurance rating, which takes into account everything from response time to water pressure, equipment and more, to be released within the next few weeks, Drake said.

Victoria is currently rated a 4, he said, explaining the rating scale is from 1 to 10 and the lower the number the better.

An improved score, like department expects to see, could drop Victoria's insurance premiums anywhere from 5 to 12 percent.

"These are measurements we will continuously try to improve," he said. "You pay our salaries and services with your tax dollars and we certainly want to respond in a way to give you the most bang for your buck."

Kathy Hanselka, with Hanselka Real Estate, said she attends chamber luncheons to stay on top of what's going on. She said she enjoyed the update on the department, especially the information on Victoria's ISO rating.

Linda Johnson, with Summit Realty, agreed.

"Anything that affects buyers' insurance rates can make a big difference in real estate," she said. "I think it's great."

Drake said the department has done a lot in the 90 days since he came to Victoria.

"What makes the difference is the people," he said. "They're very open to change ... and realizing there are more efficient ways to get the job done."

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