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firerescue.hotims.com FIREFIGH TERNATION. COM
square mile), the minimum response staffing is 10 personnel,
arriving at the scene within 10 minutes, for 80 percent of such
• In rural demand zones (less than 500 people per square mile),
the minimum response staffing is six personnel, arriving within
14 minutes, for 80 percent of such calls.
So, in this case, your department falls into the urban demand
zone, and that means 90 percent of the time (day, night, etc.) you
(which may include automatic mutual aid, etc.) are expected to
have 15 fully qualified fire folks on the scene in nine minutes. And
the question is simple: Can you do it or not? You know the answer;
Now I know we hate standards, so let’s remove the standard and
ask the question: If your house was on fire or your kids needed
emergency help, is nine minutes acceptable to you? Well hot damn
... it is that simple.
FIRE RESPONSE: Research shows that 30 years ago, people
had about 17 minutes to get out of a house fire. Today, it’s down
to three or four minutes, because newer homes and the furniture
inside burn a lot faster.
EMS RESPONSE: Cardiac arrest: Eight minutes from event.
Chocking? Bleeding? You know the answers better than me.
So, can your volunteer department do the above for those you
love? Your stats and your hearts know the answer. Is it time to
change? Your hearts and stats know that answer as well.
When a department can no longer meet industry standards,
standards that were created because people burned up in fires, lost
their homes, died in savable EMS scenarios, etc., it is time to make
it clear to the community what your department’s capabilities are
(what your department can realistically do—and not do) and give
the community a choice in determining their level of service.
Changing does NOT have to mean the “death” of a volunteer
department; however, it does mean a rebirth to stay focused on the
original mission that the founders of that agency had in mind—
helping people. Neighbors helping neighbors, that sorta stuff. It
may mean adding bunkrooms and requiring members to pull a
shift to ensure rapid response. It may mean paying those members
for their time. It may mean hiring people. It may mean consolida-
tion, collaboration, or mergers. It may mean all of the above along
with some automatic mutual aid.
It will mean that your department needs to be honest with the
community, present them with an intelligent and factual proposal
of change, and let them vote on whatever funds might be needed
to provide the needed level of service. Maybe they like it the way
it is, or maybe they have no clue and expect those trucks to come
rolling down the street filled with qualified firefighters. It is up to
them to decide.
While it can be a factor, attorneys (or the threat and worry of
them) should not be your focus. Your focus should be on what’s
best for those needing help—including your own family. Doing
what is expected of a volunteer fire/rescue/EMS department is not
always what’s best for the personal agendas of some of your
members—and it never shoulda been.