Fire Department's Limiting Rig Response Numbers To Save Fuel

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ROOFLIFECO

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DENVER -- The Denver Fire Department is considering a proposal to cut the number of rigs that respond to calls in an effort to reduce the fuel cost flare-up.

For example, the department currently sends two engines and two trucks to fire calls, but the new, more fuel-efficient response might include two engines and one truck.

"We average about three miles a gallon," said Lt. Phil Champagne, spokesman for Denver Fire. "We don't operate in a vacuum. We operate within certain economic realities… to have a massive amount of rigs arrive on a scene and just sit there unnecessarily; I think you need to take a critical look at that."

Champagne said the department would never compromise public safety or firefighter safety based on the cost of a commodity, but the firefighters’ union has been fighting the proposal.

Denver is not the only fire department looking for ways to save fuel.

North Metro Fire Rescue is a projected $65,000 over budget when it comes to fuel.

Wendy Forbes, a spokeswoman for North Metro, said they have been asking crews to stagger or combine their routine activities.

"They may go to the grocery store two times a day, breakfast and dinner. We're asking them to do that in one trip," said Forbes.

Aurora Fire is doing the same.

Denver Fire has already implemented other, less drastic methods to reduce fuel use – they brought in hybrid vehicles for support services, and they’re using mapping software that helps them find the most efficient routes.

Champagne stresses the rig cutbacks are still in the discussion phase, and fire administration will work with the union to reach an agreement.
 

ROOFLIFECO

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Doesn't sound like too bad of an idea at all to me....

I don't know who Denver 7 talked to from DFD, but "two engines and two trucks" to fires doesn't seem to be too true based on listening to Denver Fire for quite some time. The number of units that they usually send to a report of a structure fire seems ungodly.

What do you guys think?
 

firescannerbob

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Many places get by on a single truck and 2 engines... Call more if you need it. 99.9% of the time you don't.
 

Jay911

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Hello from out of state..

My volunteer department has been 'encouraged' to limit non-essential movement of the trucks, i.e. no more going out to grab a sandwich at Subway, or just going out for a casual drive/"patrol".

The city department here (1.2 mil people, 34 firehalls, think it's not too far off from Denver) runs 2 pumps, 1 aerial, 1 rescue to building fires or things that could become such. There's been no indication of any reduction in response based on fuel costs. CFD also uses biodiesel in some of its apparatus, but I don't know if that has any bearing on things.
 

KB9LMJ

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What has been discussed in Denver is limiting the number of rigs running to "unconfirmed" reports of fires. Like South Metro did a few months ago, they dropped their responses to "unconfirmed" fires and kept the same or close to the same response to "confirmed" fires. Here in the city, if it's a fire, you're GOING to get multiple calls or a report of a fire "across the street from" without a specific address...then you know to send the full response. More often than not, if it's burnt food, an elevator motor, light ballast, or other smells and bells, you're only going to get an automatic alarm or one call. ( And yes, we're VERY guilty of over responding to these, this is where I feel we can do better) That's what they're talking about limiting the response on. And I agree with that. I can't tell you how many time I've gone to "BS" on a full group that's not needed. But I fully agree and support our "ungodly" response to confirmed fires with the exception of 2 vehicles...the rescue and the 2nd chief. We send a primary attack engine, a secondary engine for a secondary water source (and I have personally been on a fire with the backup line that became the attack line in seconds because of a burst section on the attack line), a vent truck, a search truck, a RIT engine, a command chief, (here's where I think we can trim the fat) an interior chief (use one of your interior officers, we have plenty of people at this point), and the rescue....which usually ends up filling air bottles at most bread and butter fires. So cut the 2nd chief and rescue and call if you really need them. But it's a HUGE service to throw all those people at a fire and really get a strong knock on it before it becomes bigger than necessary. For 7 years prior to working at Denver, I worked for 2 different depts that sent smaller responses and fewer people, and now to personally see the difference in a full mounted aggressive attack really makes me proud to work here and see the impressive results. Simple math tells you that fewer people can and do (without any fault of their own or any attack on the way they do business) let fires get bigger than they sometimes should be. Every fire has a certain number of tasks that need to get done, regardless of staffing. Here in Denver, we can do most of those tasks simultaneously, where in my personal experience with smaller responses, the same tasks at smaller depts have to get done in a somewhat liner fashion. There's just not enough people to do it all at once. Thus, more time goes by and more time means more fire growth. That's no knock on anyone, that's simple math. So yes, I agree with smaller response on your "BS" smells and bells. But I also fully support a full response on a confirmed fire. And just to squelch those "well what if you go on an alarm with a small response and it's actually a fire" people. That's happened to me too. One engine, one truck, and one chief on an alarm found a fire in a telcomm switching building and we put it out with an extingushier! Had it have gotten bigger, I'm sure someone would have called it in and the response would have been upped, but we handled it just fine with what we had at the time.

Anyway...just my 2 cents...

But I'll keep an ear out for an official decision when it comes out.


Oh, and we use "biodiesel" in all our rigs. It's not the biodiesel that everyone thinks, the smells like a hamburger vegetable oil, it's the low sulfur, low emissions diesel and it really doesn't increase your fuel mileage at all.
 
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ROOFLIFECO

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I'd have to agree with the "unconfirmed structure fire" comment. There are usually certain signs that increase the chances of a SF being legit, those being:
* Multipule Callers
* Exact Address
* Smoke Showing from a distance (usually viewing distance from the first in station for a working fire)

I'm not sure what the protocol is for Denver, but I Aurora sends 2 Engines, 1 Truck, 1 Truck RIC team, 2 Battalion Chiefs, and 1 Ambulance to every 'structure fire' which most of the time seems to be burnt food or something of that nature. There is always the chance to call in other units if you need them, which would probably arrive by the time their assignment is required.

Quite a few departments seem to be using the low sulfur diesel fuel. Its not meant for highway use, but it is a few cents cheaper.
 

hoser147

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City Management here is the one putting the squeeze on, If it doesnt sound like a worker then it only gets a Engine, and 4 man crew unless a PD unit is on scene and calls back that it is a WSF. All mileage on Code enforcement cars and other support vehicles is logged and routine patrols are limited. On MVAs unless called for or caller states that there is entrapment or fire, then a medic goes and calls back for whatever they need. Unfortunately high fuel prices have effected the budgets of public safety as with everyone............Hoser
 

jeffreyinberthoud

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I know several departments in CA that just run a pini pumper (pickup truck sizes) to all MED calls and that amounts to 70% of calls in some larger city's . complicates man power but the savings are huge
 

Toneslider12

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A good dispatch center has to play a role in unit reduction also. If comm. centers can implement a good priority dispatching method the FD can send lower amounts of units more safely. Classifying medical calls as ALS or BLS is huge and also separating smoke odor, visible smoke and visible flame calls. I don't mean to single out Denver but sending 3 Engines, 2 Trucks, 2 Chiefs and the Rescue Code 10 to an "Electrical Short With Smoke" is dangerous to everyone on the street.

A full 3 & 2 response should be for fires with multiple reports or one credible (public safety) RP. That amount of units should never arrive to find nothing showing in my opinion. If it's really a job, the whole block will be calling 911 to tell us about it, or the first due rigs will see it on approach and upgrade if needed.
 

KB9LMJ

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A good dispatch center has to play a role in unit reduction also. If comm. centers can implement a good priority dispatching method the FD can send lower amounts of units more safely. Classifying medical calls as ALS or BLS is huge and also separating smoke odor, visible smoke and visible flame calls. I don't mean to single out Denver but sending 3 Engines, 2 Trucks, 2 Chiefs and the Rescue Code 10 to an "Electrical Short With Smoke" is dangerous to everyone on the street.

A full 3 & 2 response should be for fires with multiple reports or one credible (public safety) RP. That amount of units should never arrive to find nothing showing in my opinion. If it's really a job, the whole block will be calling 911 to tell us about it, or the first due rigs will see it on approach and upgrade if needed.
I couldn't agree more, and that's what Denver's looking at changing...finally. But as with anything, the wheels turn slow, so we'll see. There's a lot more to the story with Denver's dispatch that many may not know. So, until that gets fixed, we kinda get what we get. But, as in my previous post, they are looking at changing the matrix to include an "unconfirmed" fire category that will cut down the response.
 
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