Oak Hill Fire Department recognized for transparency

December 14, 2012   // 0 Comments

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Oak Hill Fire Chief Jeffrey J. Wittig said ESD #3 continues to lead by example in many matters related to the delivery of emergency services.

By Ann Fowler

On Monday, December 3, the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts recognized Travis County Emergency Services District #3/Oak Hill Fire Department for its online financial transparency. It is the first ESD in Texas to be so recognized.

The Comptroller’s office established a Leadership Circle program spotlighting local governments that:

• open their books to the public

• provide clear spending pictures

• share information with taxpayers using a user-friendly format

Leadership Circle designees are awarded certificates reflecting their Circle Award level: Gold, Silver or Bronze. Travis County ESD #3 met the recognition standards for the Gold level, which highlights entities that are setting the bar with their transparency efforts. It is the highest level awarded by the Comptroller’s Office.

ESD #3 President Edd New said, “Making financial information openly available to our taxpayers in easily accessed form via the internet we feel is a natural extension of our fiduciary responsibility as a Board of Commissioners. We are pleased the Comptroller of Public Accounts’ new Transparency in Government initiative has recognized our efforts with its Gold award and that our department is the first in Texas to achieve that recognition.”

New said from its inception the ESD #3/Oak Hill Fire Department has exercised strong fiscal management and provided leadership within Travis County in promoting the sharing of financial information among other emergency services districts.

Many citizens don’t know how their tax funds are managed or spent. Oak Hill Fire/ESD #3 decided to take a significant step in providing more transparency concerning its financial matters. Financial information concerning the District is now available online at the Oak Hill Fire Department website (www.OakHillFire.org/Transparent.aspx).

Originally planned for release after a website redesign, ESD #3 expedited posting the information to better inform the public about how taxpayer funds are used to provide emergency services in the area.

Oak Hill Fire Chief Jeffrey J. Wittig said ESD #3 continues to lead by example in many matters related to the delivery of emergency services. It is the first ESD in Travis County to commit to a now nationwide standard of four-person minimum staffing levels for emergency responses.

Chief Wittig described four-person staffing: “We require our trucks to be staffed with four people at all times. It is a level of staffing we will not go below, so when someone is on vacation or sick, we take action to ensure someone is working their position that day to guarantee four people will be on the truck for a response. It increases safety and our effectiveness by ensuring we have a sufficient number of people working on the truck to carry out the necessary tasks on an emergency incident.”

Four-person minimum staffing is not new to Oak Hill. It adopted that staffing level six years ago as part of a strategic plan to achieve an ISO 2 rating, a standard of service achieved by few Texas fire departments. Chief Wittig said, “We were joined in four-person staffing by Westlake (ESD #9) several years ago, and we understand Lake Travis (ESD #6) and the City of Austin are currently moving toward four-person minimum staffing levels.”

That staffing level means a unit arriving on a fire scene can safely take immediate action without waiting for backup. ESD #3 Commissioner Bob Taylor said, “We are proud to be in that select group of superior service providers.”

The Oak Hill Fire Department offers updates, safety tips, news, and current events information on Facebook: www.facebook.com/OakHillFireDept.

 


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