KINGMAN – Having reached out to the community for input on how the department is performing in delivering its services, Kingman Fire Department Chief Jake Rhoades says the majority of comments have been positive, though he believes, “We can always improve and make things better.”
The City’s fire department is working on its yearly revision of its strategic plan, which lays out the department’s direction for the coming years. The current plan was adopted in 2016 and runs through 2021.
In reading survey responses collected so far, the chief says citizens are happy with the level of service provided by the Kingman Fire Department, and complimented the professionalism of the department. Those compliments also apply to the dispatch center and building department, Rhoades said.
“It’s always good to hear when people are so complimentary of the professionalism of our department and how prepared we are,” Rhoades said. “It sure makes you proud, especially as a fire chief, to hear those things.”
But, as the chief noted, there is always room for improvement. For KFD, that means focusing on public outreach and education. While Kingman’s department is a busy one, its chief says improvements could be made in communicating with the public.
“Those are two areas that really stand out to us because it’s not the first time we’ve heard it,” Rhoades said. “And we know it’s one of these deficiencies that we have to do better on.”
He said the department has historically relied on the “favorable reputation” it has throughout Kingman, but that outreach and education has become a point of focus.
“We have to do better selling ourselves and actually tell people the things we’re doing, the progressive things we’re doing, and why they matter,” he said. “We owe it to the citizens to tell them what we’re doing, how we’re doing it and why we’re doing it.”
Rhoades explained the department also wants to start addressing the wants of citizens and not just their needs.
“Some of the comments, it really makes us step back and think, ‘Here’s what we’re doing, but here’s what the citizens want,’ and we should be doing those things as well,” the chief said.
The fire department will utilize public comments on Oct. 1 when Rhoades says a collection of fire chiefs and division representatives, about half the department, will gather to discuss survey responses and how to improve and move forward.
They will consider, “how to overcome the gap of service we’re involved in right now, and how to get to our expected performance level,” Rhoades said. “That’s kind of our mantra, continuous improvement. Everything can improve every day.”
He said Kingman’s department is unique in making use of strategic plans because not all departments utilize community input in a comprehensive manner like KFD has done. Rhoades believes that’s all in the job description.
“If we’re not thinking strategically, if we’re not planning long term, then I’m not doing my job,” he said.