September marked the one-year anniversary “of some changes to operational methodology that caused varying levels of consternation and political strife.” First we had the boundary drop between the City of Davis and the UC Davis Fire Departments. Second, and most controversially, “The decoupling of Engine 31 and Rescue 31 combined with a new station move and cover strategy that put Engine 34 (UCD) as the next unit covering 31’s district (primarily the downtown area, which has overlap with 34’s primary response area).”
Chief Nathan Trauernicht writes, “With the report out on this comparative data it will mark that last time we provide the comparison in a monthly report as the new operational practices are soundly in place and working well as intended.”
He continues, “Not so controversial is a look in this report at training performance of the two agencies over the last year. “The phrase ‘practice like you play’ rings true when it comes to training for emergency situations. Our crews spend a tremendous amount of time locally and throughout the county preparing to fulfill our all hazards mission.”
Lastly, he says, on a more somber note, that “it is important in the month of September to reflect on a day that impacts many of us so many years later, September 11, 2001. A day when 343 FDNY firefighters, along with other first responders, entered the twin towers with the purpose of saving lives, but did not return. We will never forget those heroes, or the tragic events of that day. Our profession is one of giving and sacrifice, those brave firefighters gave the ultimate sacrifice to serve others.”
Types of Calls for Service
As the Vanguard consistently has reported, the vast majority of calls for service are emergency medical, with only 17 of the 337 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. Eighty-five percent of fire calls are responded to within six minutes of the call, while 68 percent 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.”
However, this month, the chief breaks down the data a bit differently. He writes, “For this month’s report we have compiled data over the last year on the result of operational methodology changes intended to improve service. We measure this improvement through improved response readiness and more units available in their primary jurisdiction more frequently which ultimately results in generally improved response times when historically in those situations where a unit was out covering or responding into 31’s district outlying stations coverage areas would be waiting for an extended period.”
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).”
He continues, “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.”
It is on the before and after chart that you can see the clear difference in the new deployment strategy. The chief writes, “The charts below represents move ups to cover 31’s station and district when Engine 31 is not available. The first table shows a year before the boundary drop and new move/cover strategy. The second table shows a year following the boundary drop and new move/cover strategy. Whenever an apparatus is called to cover another station or district it vacates its first due district to do so.”
He writes, “You can clearly see the impact of Engine 34’s role now that the boundary has been dropped, and the impact of the new move and cover strategy, in the amount of times that 32 and 33 now stay in their district’s ready to provide service to those portions of the community.”
Chief Trauernicht writes, “In this month’s report we are showing both our typical monthly training stats as well as a seven month (the time we’ve been sharing training data in these reports) snap shot of both agencies.” He adds, “Training is a strong indicator of response readiness of crews and can be linked to how they will perform on the emergency scene. Obviously experience and the frequency with which a firefighter utilizes skills plays into the equation as well.”
The following charts Chief Trauernicht calls “self-explanatory,” for the most part. One is the average training hours by employee and the other is the total training hours, and what you see is UC Davis’ training levels increasing for the most part – trending upwards, while the city of Davis firefighters are trending downward from about 30 per employee per month in March to under 20 in September.
—David M. Greenwald reporting