Letter to the Editor: Fire district contracting – stop and think

I think we all desire and need a fire district that is performing at the highest levels. One that compares favorably to its peers in response time, ability to get to an emergency as quickly as possible, while delivering outstanding results with saving lives, property and staff safety.

With the recent information released by Edgar County Watch Dogs, and the attention to the contracting practices at the district, we have areas where our district can improve.

This isn’t bad news, it is an opportunity and wake up call to our board. They have been lax in some areas with their efforts to keep the district moving toward that high performing organization in at least the administrative area, and my guess is, it’s not isolated to this one area (my wife attends and records their meetings when possible, so we’ve discussed this in detail).

The board and district leadership should have a vision of where they want to be and set annual goals to move toward this vision. The goals must be measurable with exact targets. It needs to cover all areas, such as staff development, responsiveness and operational efficiency. They need to be reviewed at every board meeting. High performing groups occur through transparency and work.

The board is now reviewing and updating the contracts for the leadership roles. It is critical they build into these agreements the concept of improvement. The district should begin a Lean program, which will require this group to measure and improve. No more rewards based on relationships, no more vague concepts on who is doing well, but true measures that can gauge who is doing well and improving.

I think they will find that making people a bit uncomfortable is when they excel in their role. We should all make the board feel this pressure, and in turn they will push the leadership, and soon, every member of the organization will be looking for ways to improve, and we will not need groups like Edgar County Watchdogs to point out these opportunities.

Sincerely,

Mark Polito

Plainfield resident

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