11/01/07 64 W - + 12 - 18 California Department Tries Smaller Units for Some Calls

From Firehouse.com, the San Jose Fire Department is expanding their Supplemental Transport Ambulance Resource (STAR) units to include non-emergency fire calls. Interesting concept, though it begs a question: if you reduce the number of engine/truck/rescue runs, are they later seen as less-needed? Read the entire article. Here's the San Jose Fire Department site.

It is a little reminiscent of the mini-pumper concept (i.e. Syracuse NY) from the 70s- deploy fewer firefighters on smaller stuff. Supposedly the mini-pumpers could handle 80-90% of the calls. Only problem was some departments deployed them for everything, with the idea of calling for more resources if needed. Made for a lot of vacant lots.
DJ (Email) - 11/01/07 - 08:30

“though it begs a question: if you reduce the number of engine/truck/rescue runs, are they later seen as less-needed?”
To ask that question, you must first allow that they are needed at the level they are currently used. Do you “need” to have 1000 gallons of water and 1000’ of hose on every medical call, just in case? There have been several times in my career on an ambulance when an engine cleared itself, or the Lt/Capt for formality sake asked me if they could clear because there was a fire call. If they were critical to the successful outcome of the call, how could they so easily be removed? I would postulate that they are not “needed” persay, but instead utilized so taxpayers don’t feel like their money is being wasted by paying firefighters to be idle until they are truly “needed.” If it were not for unions and traditions I believe if someone was to setup a public safety system today from scratch it would look very different from what we currently see.
Dave - 11/01/07 - 11:52

You don’t know until you get to a call if you will be needed or not. After arriving and seeing that 4 firefighters AND 2 paramedics are not needed, what’s wrong with asking the medic if you can clear that call to answer another call in close proximity to your location?

Mike, I would guess that it would depend on the spin that was put on the question. What I mean is, after awhile of the “smaller” unit use, somebody decides that the “bigger” trucks are not needed. If nobody justifies having the “bigger” trucks on stand by for “bigger” calls to the public in a positive manor, somebody else (like the media) will put a negative spin on the situation calling it “wastefull” spending or such, and the public may then see the “bigger” trucks as less-needed.
firedriver - 11/01/07 - 16:14

If you look up the Wichita Fire page (unofficial one)you’ll see they use “Squads” which are pickup based brush truck type units to run medicals and other calls, as they put it to ease wear and tear on the bigger trucks. One of the departments in AZ around the phoenix area I think is running a ladder tender for non-emergency calls and high volume times for medical calls, and then if you look at Richmond VA which runs all quints but has some freightliner based “engines” or FRV’s as they call them to run medicals and other calls where a full quint might not need to run. It still comes down to do you need to run a full engine company or ladder on a bs medical or something else? No, but at the same time we operate in a world where murphy’s law applies and what is initially dispatched can change in an instant. That and as one person pointed out it won’t take much for some bean counter to say “smaller trucks” sound like a great idea, after all the numbers say you run mainly medicals why do we need these big trucks and all these firefighters, it looks like two men and a truck will work just fine.
Char-Meck Guest - 11/01/07 - 17:56

Sorry guys, I’ll never buy into the “save wear and tear” theory, especially around these parts. What did the busiest engine in RFD run last year? It’s small in comparison to the others in this nation that push out 6,000 runs a year. I don’t see DCFD,FDNY, Baltimore, Philly or Chicago putting a brush unit with 2 guys on the street to answer EMS calls. I just think it’s a way to reduce staffing levels and save the almighty dollar.
Silver - 11/01/07 - 19:40

B I N G O ! ! !
guest 101 - 11/01/07 - 20:06

Sometimes when we have personel to staff the engine and one or two additional pieces of apparatus we send the brush truck on the medical calls, I believe stony hill does this for all medical calls, can someone confirm?
DHFD - 11/01/07 - 23:24

As an aside, we’re still riding 3 on engines and ladders! I can understand if we were 6 & 6, but we’re not.
Silver - 11/02/07 - 10:04

Stony Hill sends a Brush truck from the closest station An engine from the other station checks in with the crew in case there is a need for the extra manpower. Must say it works rather well. The help is there if you need it and keeps a engine in service ready if something else come up.
SHFD - 11/02/07 - 10:40

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