02/28/11 156 W - + 7 - 5 Response Changes in Chesterfield County, VA

From a reader, here's a Firehouse.com story about response changes starting tomorrow in Chesterfield County, VA. That's right outside Richmond, if memory serves. Three big things:

The last point is something we've discussed here, and which has been advocated by readers for Wake County. Under the new guidelines, notes the story, only staffed units will be dispatched to calls. And only those resources "necessary to mitigate the emergency" will be allowed to respond. 

The article also provides some details about CCFD. They only have two full volunteer stations, and their total personnel number 423 career members and 100 volunteers. Read the article, discuss as desired. Or learn more about Chesterfield County Fire & EMS.

Sounds like they need to do a better job of managing their resources, rather than discouraging them.
ncff - 02/28/11 - 23:18

Personally, I think some pro-activeness like this around here wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. If something pertaining to red light usage were enacted though, I think Chief Officers should be excluded around these parts.

I think the tanker concept running “non-emergency” is great (unless the I.C. deems an emergency response is necessary).
Silver - 03/01/11 - 00:09

I strongly disagree with this move. I know that they are doing this with the best intentions. Not allowing volunteers to respond with a light is mistake one, purely because not everyone can stay at the station! These are volunteers and they will come to staff the truck if they are not there. Eliminating this is leading to problem two, not dispatching unstaffed trucks is not a good idea. If the members don’t think they can get it out with the people there or the people coming then they should mark it out of service but not dispatching it is a poor decision. Finally, not running emergency traffic in a tanker is one of the dumbest things I have ever heard. If you are calling for tankers or they are dispatched then they are clearly needed and an engine company can only hold on for so long with no tankers there. I don’t know about you but I would prefer to not run out of water while I am holding a hose. Tankers not coming emergency traffic is like saying we should wait a few minutes while running water to go hook up to a hydrant. This whole idea is doomed to fail or get someone killed, it’s only a matter of time.
7409 - 03/02/11 - 21:16

I disagree with you 7409.

The way times are now, for every responsible volunteer with a red light, you have 2 irresponsible ones. Not bashing volunteers or anything but I have been “pro no red light” for a while now(with the exclusion of chief officers). Too many firefighter fatalities are coming now on the way to the scene or station in their POV.

The not dispatching unstaffed trucks is a good idea for an area around here as well. Think of out in the county for instance. You could get dispatched out to a house fire, well if you run card in the CAD says you respond with the closest 2 other engines, a rescue, and ladder but those 2 other engines aren’t manned at night or even the day, you’re in trouble! Why not take one thing off the company officer’s plate while on the way to the call like “are my mutual aid stations staffed right now?”. Another perspective. You’re on a working structure fire and you need additional help, how much easier would it be to say “Central, send me another alarm” rather than central I need “Podunk engine 1, Jonestown engine 3, and whatevertown tanker 6”. That’s the issue right now in the county, we can’t call for another alarm because we don’t know how many people or who is coming.

I don’t really agree with never running lights on a tanker to fires, maybe not off an initial dispatch but once you have confirmation of a working fire, then step it up.

We’re not in the business of running with all our lights as fast as we can down the road, we’re in the business of saving lives and conserving property. You can’t do this if you don’t arrive safely.
county man - 03/02/11 - 22:38

As for the volunteers using red lights, we are our own worst enemy here. I’ve been a volunteer for 26 years and have had a red light in my vehicle the entire time. I don’t use it on every call, actually use it on about 1 in every 10 calls. The citizens in my town accommodate my request to yield and I drive like I have a head on my shoulders. In my 26 years, I can recall only one time (and that was in 1987) that any type of education, etc. was delivered on the topic of responding POV. We don’t allow FFs to engage on calls until they have completed rookie school, been fit tested, etc. but we permit them to do what is likely the most dangerous activity they will undertake in the fire service (responding to stations/scenes) with little to no oversight.

As for the unstaffed trucks, until Wake County is willing to fund and staff a fully career service to include supplementary apparatus such as tankers and rescues, unstaffed trucks will need to remain in service. What we can do is establish a parameter within CAD that will dispatch the next closest capable unit if those already dispatched to do not check enroute within a given timeframe. For many years in EMS we used this for second duty ambulances. Often the first dispatched unit would get enroute before the second dispatched unit was close to the scene, but it never left a call without something responding.

I agree with County Man. Let the tankers roll cold until either a working fire is confirmed or they are cancelled. Tankers are often the first vehicles new folks get checked off on – and they are often the poorest handling vehicles in our fleets. Most every engine that is supported by a tanker has at least 1000 gallons on-board to start with and the second due engine is bringing at least as much. Slow down the tankers.
Olson - 03/03/11 - 12:48

I have to agree that not dispatching unstaffed trucks is a good idea. Waiting on a timeframe to go by only increases the response times for the staffed units that can be on the way as soon as dispatched. When a volunteer gets to the station and has a crew and driver ready then they can put another piece of apparatus in service and can be utilized if needed, If not on the original call, that unit and crew can cover the area for the next possible call. While back in the day it did serve its purpose with EMS, I just dont see the upside with fire departments, in very few cases are they that spread out unless the incident is right next to a station. Besides by the time you get a driver and crew (not just driver and one other person) to the station, put the gear on the apparatus and then start their response the staffed unit from another station will almost be on scene. Now, i have never seen any numbers to back either theory up, that would be a cool thing to look into. In my opinion, i think that departments will have more help and people on the scene quicker by dispatching staffed units. I’m all for having an extra apparatus in service if you have 3-4 vollies hanging out at the station with the paid staff, they can put hit the “in service” button while they are there and then place the unit back out of service when they leave.

As far as red-lights and tankers, i would have to agree with Olsen and County man
gen3fire - 03/03/11 - 17:26

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