Brian Schaeffer

Dispatching a more flexible, reliable response

Brian Schaeffer, Assistant Chief, No Phone Number Available

Monday, September 16, 2013 at 1:15 p.m.

Emergency calls are changing. Medical calls account for the overwhelming majority of Spokane Fire Department calls for service. That shift puts new demands on department personnel and stresses on equipment, creating a need to evolve the response model to better meet citizen needs.

An innovative pilot program to bring greater flexibility and reliability to the City's fire service system using the deployment of smaller incident response units has begun. The fire department has begun dispatching sport utility type vehicles, known as Alternative Response Units (ARUs), staffed by a single firefighter, to less severe incidents.

This trial period is designed to gather data about response times, service delivery and operational costs of ARUs. The smaller response vehicle keep the big red trucks and their crews in the station and available for more critical incidents.

At the completion the month-long program, the data will be compared to the traditional deployment system.

Last year, 25,215 of the 32,521 requests for Fire Department services were dispatched as emergency medical incidents. Upon arrival, 19,744 were determined to be actual emergency medical calls, creating a need to identify alternative response capabilities. Data collected during the pilot program will be used to determine what percentage of those calls can be serviced by an ARU.

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