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If You’re a Fire Engine Salesman, Things Ain’t Great in Washington State

"Essential services?  What essential services?"

MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENTS IN TWO Washington cities are trying a new tack in order to keep from spending more money on fire protection.

A headline in KING-TV's website reads:  Tacoma Fire Department replacing some fire trucks with pickups.  Not an exaggeration as it turns out.  They go on to report:

Axed with millions in deep budget cuts, the Tacoma Fire Department will be replacing some big rig trucks with pickup trucks at two of its stations. Firefighters say all residents should be alarmed.

KING-TV image

Since 1911, Tacoma Fire Station 13 has been a staple in the community, but now, it may be something to worry about. Due to $11 million in budget cuts, the station will no longer have a fire engine. Instead, it will respond to calls in a truck. "It’s a pickup truck. It’s the same thing you can buy off the lot," said Ryan Mudie, President of Tacoma Professional Firefighters Local 31. According to the union, the Chevy trucks used to be driven by supervisors. At stations 13 & 15, two firefighters will use them to provide EMS services 12 hours a day from 7am to 7pm.

"People don’t have emergencies just at certain times of the day," said Susan Zubalick, who lives near Station 13.

Susan obviously possesses more wisdom than the city council.  Fire Chief Jim Duggan, who seems to have been forced to take the action against his better judgement apparently, says things will get sticky real quick when there are equipment move-ups to cover the stations that are out in their pickups.

Read the full article HERE.

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ABOUT 100 MILES SOUTH on I-5 near the Oregon border, the Vancouver City Council heard a proposal from Fire Chief Joe Molina and Deputy Chief Dan Olson to run a trial program where SUV's will  be parked in two stations where two FF's will be pulled from the engine to run "non-emergency" medical calls.  (Emergency EMS calls are handled by AMR ambulance service.)  The Columbian tries to explain this unusual concept:

Molina said he'd like to start April 1 doing a pilot program in which SUVs — Molina and Olson have offered their city-owned SUVs for the test — would respond to priority 3 and 4 medical calls. Fire engines would still be sent on the most critical medical calls, which are ranked priority 1 and 2.

Molina said the department will also be working to better coordinate with American Medical Response, which has the ambulance contract for Emergency Services District 2, which includes the city of Vancouver. For medical calls that only rate priority 5, perhaps just an ambulance would respond, Molina said.

Since 2010, 40 types of medical calls have been added to the fire department's do-not-respond list, and the department may add another 15 types of calls. Examples of ailments that rate as priority 3 and 4 calls include back pain, fainting, near fainting, chest pain in someone older than 35, relatively minor assaults and falls and headaches due to an unknown cause, Olson said.

The entire article is posted HERE.

Firegeezer is unable to relate to lengthy do-not-respond lists.  Back when I was saving lives and property, if somebody called for help, we went and helped.  What's wrong with that?  Long-time Firegeezer readers might recall that a couple of years ago the VFD sold off their two EMS response units so that they wouldn't have to run the calls.  Thanks to Firefighter Dave for passing this along.

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Comments - Add Yours

  • http://twitter.com/firehat firehat

    I see in the original article that the chief in Tacoma has made the “most of the calls are medical” excuse. I wonder why we see this so much as an excuse to cut firefighting resources but we so seldom hear about the very low percentage of medical calls that warrant EMS. Vancouver seems to be making that point in an odd way, but it’s a start. (Though the idea in Vancouver is still a bad idea.)