Protecting the QC: Response times to decrease with addition of new fire station

A view of East Valley firefighters work to put out a fire. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

When a dog gave birth in a resident’s shower and one of the puppies ended up in the drain, Queen Creek firefighters were called to provide assistance and arrived within a minute.

Engine 413 was dispatched at 9:15 a.m. June 30 to an “assist citizen” incident in the 18000 block of East Canary Way and arrived on scene at 9:16 a.m., Constance Halonen-Wilson, public information officer for the town of Queen Creek, said.

“Crews assessed the situation and determined the puppy was drowning in the ‘P’ trap of the shower. They used their EMS portable suction unit to remove the water from the ‘P’ trap,” she said.

Queen Creek Fire and medical Department Engineer Patti Eizer, firefighters Sigifredo Castro and Bryan Ballou. Firefighter Kevin Ritter, not pictured, was also on shift and at the incident. (Submitted photo)

Queen Creek Fire and Medical Department Engineer Patti Eizer, firefighter Sigifredo Castro, firefighter Bryan Ballou and firefighter Kevin Ritter were on shift and at the incident.

“After multiple attempts to remove the puppy with other tools, and continuously having to remove water, the hose size was reduced on the portable suction unit and the puppy was successfully rescued using controlled suction,” she said.

Responding to this particular call within one minute is unusual in Queen Creek. The average response time generally has been a little over four minutes — but with plans to add fire houses within the town, officials expect to see that response time continue to decrease.

The National Fire Protection Association has a standard goal for fire departments to initiate a response to, and arrive at the scene of an emergency incident, in 4 minutes or less, Queen Creek Fire Chief Vance Gray said.

“Queen Creek Fire and Medical strives to achieve this goal by viewing this standard as one of the ‘best practices’ within the industry,” Chief Gray said.

Response times

The average response times for the years 2012-17 is 4 minutes and 36 seconds, Queen Creek Fire Chief Vance Gray said.

The average response times by year are:

  • 2012: 4:39
  • 2013: 4:19
  • 2014: 4:31
  • 2015: 4:30
  • 2016: 4:49
  • 2017: 4:43

A travel time goal is measured from the time a fire truck initiates a response when the wheels of the fire truck are rolling to the emergency incident and stops when the fire truck arrives at the emergency incident, Chief Gray said.

“Average response times include trucks that respond to an emergency incident (lights and sirens). Calls for service that do not require the use of lights and sirens are not factored into the average travel time reported,” he said.

Calls for service

The Queen Creek Fire and medical Department responded to 3,553 calls for service in 2017. They included:

  • 37 structure fires (includes cooking fires, chimney fires, etc.);
  • 84 non-structure fires (vehicle, brush, dumpster, etc.);
  • 2,218 emergency medical service/rescue calls;
  • 465 service calls (lock-out, snakes, unauthorized burning, etc.);
  • 375 good intent (canceled en route, warming fire, smell of smoke, no incident found, etc.);
  • 286 false alarm (smoke detector, alarm system, etc.);
  • 74 hazardous condition calls, no fire (gas leak, electrical wiring, flammable liquid spill, etc.); and
  • 14 other calls (overpressure, flood assessment, etc.).

Fire stations

Queen Creek Fire and Medical Department has stations at 20678 E. Civic Parkway (Fire Station No. 411), 24787 S. Sossaman Road (Fire Station No. 412) and 19159 E. Queen Creek Road (Fire Station No. 413). Fire administration offices are at 22358 S. Ellsworth Road, according to the Town of Queen Creek website.

There isn’t a specific coverage area for each station. The closest available unit, regardless of station and jurisdiction, is dispatched, Chief Gray said.

A $407,105 modular building for an apparatus storage bay and a temporary fire station to serve the east side of Queen Creek was approved in May by the town council.

The Queen Creek Fire and Medical Department station will include living quarters for firefighters. The bay is a garage to protect the fire truck, according to a memo from Melissa Bauer, the town’s contract officer.

The modular building is to be placed on a town-owned well site at 980 W. Combs Road and is slated to open in January.

“With additional fire stations, fire trucks and firefighters the Queen Creek Fire and Medical Department increases its ability to respond more quickly to emergencies,” Chief Gray said.

“Today, the southeast and northeast portions of Queen Creek do not have fire stations; once the next fire station is added in early 2019 the amount of time it takes to respond to the east area of town should reduce,” he said.

“With the addition of fire stations 4 and 5, response times are anticipated to improve as the stations are strategically located in the eastern areas of town. QCFMD’s five-station buildout was determined by many factors, including the NFPA best practice of a 4-minute response time,” Chief Gray said in an e-mail.

Fire station No. 4 is planned for Signal Butte and Queen Creek roads and fire station No. 5 at 980 W. Combs Road.

Fire department personnel

The fire department has 51 employees including six administrative positions and 45 operations positions.

Administrative positions are: One fire chief, two deputy chiefs, one fire marshal, one management assistant and one senior administrative assistant.

Operations positions are: Three battalion chiefs (one per shift), nine captains, nine engineers and 24 firefighters.

“Operations: These positions work 48-hour shifts to ensure 24/7 emergency response. QCFMD has three shifts with three crews (one at each station) on each shift,” Chief Gray said.

Editor Richard Dyer can be contacted via e-mail at rdyer@newszap.com or at twitter.com/rhdyer or facebook.com/RichardDyerJournalist

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