DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas Fire-Rescue has a new chief, but he’s a familiar face.
City Manager T.C. Broadnax announced he promoted one of the department’s Assistant Chiefs, Dominique Artis, to Chief.
At a news conference Friday morning, Chief Artis said, “I feel we have the best department in the country and I want to continue that momentum that we feel we’re on right now.”
Chief Artis has moved up the ranks in his 23 years at the department.
So he’s well aware of the challenges.
In a memo sent to the City Council December 14, city administrators said its average response time for a first paramedic was five minutes, 18 seconds.
That was 18 seconds more than the goal of five minutes, which equated to a 6 percent difference.
That earned a “Caution” ranking.
The city awards a grade of “On-Track” as long as the difference is five percent or less.
On Friday, a Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman said the department has improved and is no longer ranked “Caution” for average response time for first paramedic.
The spokesman said its EMS response is within five minutes 88 percent of the time, nearing its goal of 90 percent.
With rising call volumes, the city will be adding its 41st ambulance in the coming months.
But the department will also soon switch to a new priority dispatch system, so that it doesn’t always have to send an ambulance or fire truck to answer a call.
Artis said, “As you know, we have limited resources in the city and what we try to do is make sure those resources are able to get to those locations in a timely manner.”
The department is also continuing to recruit new firefighters.
By the end of fiscal year 2018-19, the city wants to bring the number of sworn DFR employees to 1,942.
That’s slightly higher than the 1,939 Fire Rescue had at the end of its fiscal year 2017-18.
The department had 1,810 sworn employees at the end of its fiscal year 2016-17.
Chief Artis, who as Assistant Chief, oversaw recruiting, credited the training staff.
“The last I checked, we still had about 200 folks in the pipeline now. This last year alone, we trained over 264 firefighters and that was historic for this department. They did a really, really good job of putting out recruits to make sure we can meet our attrition rate as well as control some of our overtime costs that we see hampers fire departments all across the nation,” he said.
He said their top priorities are serving residents well and keeping firefighters and paramedics safe.
The President of the Dallas Fire Fighters Association, Jim McDade said he and his members are very pleased with Chief Artis. “He’s one of our own. We thought it was very important to hire within and hire a Dallas firefighter as the new Chief of the Dallas Fire Department.”
Artis succeeds David Coatney, who left the city after more than two years as Chief.
He became the Director of the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, which oversees firefighter training and a statewide Urban Search & Rescue Team called Texas Task Force One.
Texas Task Force Two, another Urban Search & Rescue Team consists of Dallas Fire-Rescue firefighters.
McDade said he urged the City Manager to promote from within.
Only one other Assistant Chief was considered for the Chief’s job.
The city didn’t consider any candidates from outside the city.
McDade said, “Being part of that command staff that put the vision together, Chief Artis will be able to pick up where we left off and keep going.”