Landis Fire Department first in state to be recognized, awarded for new risk assessment program

Published 12:02 am Thursday, April 14, 2022

LANDIS — The fire department in Landis is the first in the state to be recognized for its completion of the North Carolina League of Municipalities’ Fire Department Risk Assessment Program.

The fire department was recognized Monday at the town aldermen meeting by Fire Risk Consultant TJ Deluca and Director of Risk Control and Public Safety Tom Anderson, both of the NCLM.

Formed in 2020, the NCLM’s Fire Department Risk Assessment Program allows departments to formally review their policies, procedures and practices to identify and minimize the risks to firefighters, residents and municipalities. The intent of the process is for overall safety to staff and citizens and reduce liabilities.

Public Safety Director Zachary Lechette said the department completed a voluntary review within the program to make corrections, identify risks and improve processes.

“I’m proud of all our staff who worked hard to improve our policies, procedures and practices to reach this milestone, the goal of which is to minimize risks within the department, to our firefighters and to our municipality,” Lechette said. “This was a process a year and a half in the making. We are excited to be a part of this great initiative here in Rowan County and across the state. The citizens of Landis should take great pride in the professionalism of their firefighters.”

Guided by the Fire Service Advisory Committee, NCLM states the program was created as a tool to help partner fire departments reduce firefighter injuries, vehicle accidents and liability claims. Roughly 10 chief officers from across the state comprise the committee from large and small municipalities. Those chiefs meet regularly with the league’s risk control, claims and underwriting staff and are responsible for implementing various training programs and services within the League’s Shield Services, including the Fire Service Risk Assessment.

Lechette said the process began with a face-to-face meeting in January 2021, where they began discussing the department’s equipment, practices and policy manual. Over the next year and a half, the League and the department coordinated back-and-forth to implement suggestions from an “inside-out” look of the department.

An example of one change includes increased training and certifications for the revamped driver training program, which may require more time behind the wheel.

Landis currently has 21 firefighters, with nine of those full-time and the remaining working either part-time or on a volunteer basis. Another change Landis implemented is a more encompassing anti-harassment policy. Lechette explained to the Post that many fire departments include volunteer firefighters, and the league has found high liability in that area as many typically fall short of having robust policies against harassment.

During Monday’s meeting, Beluca said it was the first presentation the League has granted in the state. Beluca said he appreciates the department’s “aggressive stance” in making adjustments and that it is “not at all a small task.”

“As employees and citizens of Landis, you should be very impressed with the dedication and the hard work of not only the director, but the full staff,” Beluca said. “I think it’s outstanding.” 

Beluca said a similar program for law enforcement officials was established several years ago, marking North Carolina among the first to implement such a program. He added that he hopes this new program for fire departments will again serve as an example to other states.

Also at the board of aldermen meeting Monday:

• Board members approved the rezoning of tax parcel 123B115, located on Kimball Road behind Food Lion and measuring 1.04 acres, from single family residential to mixed use 2 district with a conditional overlay. The new zoning will only allow the construction of townhomes. Scott and Tina Byrne say they’re planning to build a dozen affordable townhomes for families.

• Megan Young and James Shaver presented the town with patriotic flags to be placed on light poles. It’s part of a partnership with WoodmenLife, which supports other town events like National Night Out and grants for public safety equipment.

• Aldermen approved the return of Corriher-Lipe Middle School’s 5k run as part of its annual Springfest.

• Town aldermen approved changes to the 2022-23 fiscal year budget schedule due to unforeseen projects being discussed. The town expects to host feedback and recommendation sessions on May 23 and 24, with a budget hearing scheduled for June 13.

• Per recommendation from the North Carolina Department of Transportation, the speed limit on Mount Moriah Road will be reinstated to 45 miles per hour, except for the school zone.

• The town has received $450 in surplus sales from old iPhones.

• Town aldermen gave the green light for a $100,000 Kubota grant application to help expand the play area at Corriher Wilderness Park. The plan is to construct a challenge course for older children who may have grown out of the playground set currently there.

• Landis resident Scott Fall was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Planning Board.

• Town aldermen approved the beginning process of working with Centralina Council of Government to facilitate a strategic planning process. The initial cost is $20,000 and will be funded from the upcoming 2022-23 fiscal year budget.

About Natalie Anderson

Natalie Anderson covers the city of Salisbury, politics and more for the Salisbury Post. She joined the staff in January 2020 after graduating from Louisiana State University, where she was editor of The Reveille newspaper. Email her at natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com or call her at 704-797-4246.

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