Last year the city of Davis implemented several reforms with the way the fire service provided service to the community. These included modifications to the response times, to put them in line with other community and professional standards, as well as existing response patterns; boundary drop to allow Davis and UC Davis to be first responder regardless of which jurisdiction the emergency was in; fire staffing changes coupled with changes to deployment; and shared services.
The August report shows that these efforts continue to show improvement in the service provided to the community. This has been despite some challenges, mainly due to the weather.
“The month of August was busy for both agencies with respect to out of county strike teams in support of the state’s mutual aid system,” wrote Fire Chief Nathan Trauernicht who heads up both the Davis and UC Davis Fire Departments. “Many of our firefighters have spent a great deal of time deployed over these hot, dry, summer months.”
He continued, “So far, 2014 is shaping up to be one of the most challenging fire seasons of the past few decades. Our firefighters will be entrenched on the front lines of these massive conflagrations through October or until the state receives some significant rain.”
“When a firefighter responds to a large campaign fire common conditions can include: working 24 hour shifts on the fire line, average of 7 to 14 day deployments, rugged terrain, heat and smoke filled conditions, limited sleep and rest periods, limited communications with loved ones, and working in dangerous unfamiliar territory,” he continued.
He added, “While these firefighters are away fulfilling their duties other firefighters are required to cover their time in the City of Davis and UC Davis fire stations to ensure our local communities continue to receive quality service. The amount of time away from home can be taxing on families and loved ones. Many family events are missed in order to fulfill the duty for which these men and women took an oath to perform.”
Despite these challenges, the data put out in monthly reports to the community, continue to show progress.
Types of Calls for Service
As the Vanguard consistently has reported, the vast majority of calls for service are emergency medical, with only 24 of the 388 calls being fire related.
As Chief Trauernicht notes, “Keep in mind that these only depict a single month and that call type, just like volume, changes based on factors heavily influenced by time of year. An example in the City is an increase in Fire – Wildland/Grass during warm weather months, as that includes grass/vegetation fires.”
The data on response times, for calls into Davis, continue to show that nearly 90 percent of all calls have a response time of six minutes or less. Structure Fires & EMS calls are the only calls that have an adopted standard by the City. 85% of fire calls are responded to within six minutes of the call while 68% of EMS calls are responded to within five minutes.
For the purposes of this report, “response readiness refers to a fire company being in its home station, or home district, and ready for a call.”
“Why is this important?” the chief asks. “Simply put, if a fire company is out of district (out of position), response times increase to that response area.”
When the city reduced the number of firefighters on an engine from 4 to 3, it decoupled the rescue apparatus at Rescue 31 from the fire engine, allowing each to respond independently as needed. The logic there was to reduce the number of times a fire engine from one of the peripheral stations had to move up to the central station to cover for Station 31.
Writes Chief Trauernicht, “As you can see below, the focus of our analysis is on the response district of City of Davis Fire Station 31. Why do we call this out? Because this district has the highest call volume and the highest number of stacked calls (also known as simultaneous calls).”
“So when we show a ‘reduction’ in the 2014 month-to-month comparisons, we are basically showing the amount of responses in which Engine 32 and 33 are now remaining in their home districts, when in the past they would have been out of position and response time to those districts would have been extended,” he continues.
He continues, “The chart below represents move ups to cover 31’s station and district when Engine 31 is not available. The first table shows August of 2013, before the boundary drop. The second table shows August of 2014 following the boundary drop.”
“Whenever an apparatus is called to cover another station or district it vacates its first due district to do so,” he continues. “You can clearly see the impact of Engine 34’s role now that the boundary has been dropped in the amount of times that 32 and 33 now stay in their districts ready to provide service to those portions of the community.”
The bottom line is that the data continue to show that the boundary drop and decoupling the rescue apparatus have produced better service overall to the community by allowing the fire engines to stay in their main areas, and reducing the times when they have to move an engine to the central fire station thus leaving their main area uncovered.
—David M. Greenwald reporting