It’s an honor to serve the community and the staff of the South Montgomery County Fire Department as Fire Chief.  The 150 men and women that work within the 7 Divisions of the Department are the key to the success of our organization, and they serve with professional excellence on a daily basis.  I am thankful for our ESD Board of Commissioners who support me and the vision and mission of the Department.

Our service area continued to see explosive growth and development in 2023.  As a result, the department increased staffing both in Operations and Administration.  In Administration, we added a Support Services Director, a Technology Director, a Community Risk Reduction Officer, an additional Fire Inspector, and an additional Training Officer.  In Operations, we increased staffing on each shift to maintain four members on every Engine and Ladder Truck every day.

Our Operations/Suppression Division witnessed a significant increase in call volume in 2023.  The number of emergency incidents our firefighters responded to totaled 5414, a 20% increase from 2022.  Of the 5414 incidents, 3130 were EMS calls, with the remaining 2285 being fire related calls.  This Division makes up the largest number of our personnel, with 132 members assigned over 3 shifts.  These members are the ones our community sees and interacts with daily, either during an emergency incident or a public relations event.  I am proud to say that they consistently provide professional, quality service to you, our citizens. 

Our number one priority and most valuable asset are the men and women that call South Montgomery County Fire Department their place of work.  To ensure they maintain the knowledge, skills, abilities, and overall wellness to perform their duties, our Training Division provides an intense training schedule that includes internal classes as well as external offerings that our members attend. In 2023, our 150 member staff completed an average of 320 hours of training per person.

Our Preparedness Division had a busy year in both inspections and public education and relations events.  Our Inspections Division completed 4626 compliance and safety related inspections in 2023 and handled over 350 new permits and certificates of occupancy.  Community Risk Reduction through public education and public relations is at the forefront of the services we provide to the community.  Our department participated in 91 public education/relations events in 2023, interacting with over 60,000 citizens, most of whom were children. 

Relating to fleet and apparatus, the Maintenance Division took delivery of 6 new staff vehicles and placed an order for three Engines and one Ladder Truck.  These apparatus have a 3-4 year delivery timeframe, so they must be planned for and ordered well in advance of the date to be placed in service.  One of the new Engines will be an addition to our fleet and will go into service at the new station 11-7.  The other two new Engines will replace older front-line apparatus.  The new Ladder Truck will replace our current truck at Station 11-1.  We finalized the plans and placed the order for our new Command Vehicle and will be taking delivery of it by the end of the first quarter of 2024.  Lastly, we placed an order for a new Tanker that will replace our current Tanker at Station 11-4.  We plan to take delivery of the new Tanker by Summer of 2024.

Relating to infrastructure, we made tremendous progress on our Maintenance Facility and Training Grounds expansion project behind Station 11-3.  This project is projected to be complete by the end of 2024.  Additionally, we are in the process of purchasing approximately 3 acres of land east of Grand Oaks High School, where Station 11-7 will be built to accommodate the growth and development in that area.

As a final note, I am extremely excited to say that we completed a 5-year strategic plan for the Department and will be publishing it in the first quarter of 2024.  This plan will guide the Department in expanding our infrastructure, staffing, and processes over the next 5 years. 

As always, we are committed to serving with excellence and integrity in safeguarding the community’s well-being through life safety, property protection, and comprehensive risk mitigation.   

Fire Chief Troy Koteras