The new year promptly began with wonderful news and developments for the JFRD, as Thursday the 5th witnessed the official arrival of 'new' firefighters to the Department with the graduation ceremony for Recruit Class 216. Congratulations to all! Shortly thereafter, more specifically the week of January 9, the Department achieved a tremendous milestone with the final upgrades to frontline apparatus completed and therefore making ALL JFRD units capable of providing Advanced Life Support (ALS) at every incident. These improvements, ranging from 12 Lead Monitors to drug therapies, will increase the life-saving capabilities of each and every first arriving unit; many years ago the latter component was once the sole purview of Rescue and now, over time and taking full advantage of the many certified paramedics found among JFRD units ( and not JUST Rescue), sophisticated and essential pre-hospital treatment for any emergency will immediately occur with any unit dispatched to an incident. This particular public safety evolution places Jacksonville among only two other Fire Departments within the top 50 largest departments in the entire nation (including New York, Chicago, etc.) with the significant designation of being "all ALS, all of the time."
In spite of the attention directed at the ALS development within the Department other JFRD units, including our 'specialty' units, are still going about their respective business in the same professional and capable fashion as ever before with little to no fanfare at all: case in point the JFRD Hazmat Team(s). Every day our Hazmat Technicians are called into action with their corresponding work often unreported, but on Wednesday the 11th of January that changed for at least one day as the Team was thrust into a prominent role at the Federal Courthouse on Monroe Street. It was here, just before noon, when the Hazmat Teams were dispatched to the report of a 'suspicious envelope' found in the courthouse mailroom. With a typically professional, protocol driven approach to the issue and working in beautiful tandem with law enforcement, the JFRD team soon had the item in question isolated and securely delivered to the JSO Bomb Squad for further disposal. No exposures were reported from the incident as the item in question was never opened and, ultimately, proved to be merely a hoax.