September Fire Report Shows Success, Red Flags on Training


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.”

Fire-September-1 Fire-September-4

Response Times

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.

Fire-September-2 Fire-September-3

Response Readiness

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.”

Fire-September-5 Fire-September-6 Fire-September-7 Fire-September-8 Fire-September-9

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.”

Training Performance

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

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. SODA

    Where are the red flags?  or at least the analysis?

    I kept reading and waiting then the two ‘self explanatory’ graphs, then done!

    What are the descriptions of the shifts A B C and why are there differences in shifts and depts??  Is there more??

  2. PhilColeman

    The promised “red flag” apparently is the disparate training between the two agencies. The UCD firefighters are trending upward (which for us regular folks means “increasing”), while the City firefighters is decreasing. That’s been ruled as something bad, a red flag. Yet, no reason is given for us to become alarmed, despite this being an extraordinarily long post.

    Maybe previous to the merger, the City firefighters has a superior training program to their counterparts at UCD. Maybe the city firefighters had already received essential training in key components of the profession, and resources have been concentrated to bring parity to the UCD training program.

    And just maybe, we could have inquired of Chief Trauernicht to offer an explanation for this disparity (they’re his stats) before raising the red flag. The Chief has not exactly been a shrinking violet in responding to any question or concerns regarding these monthly reports. And maybe this column was entirely unnecessary and just raised a false sense of fear where none existed.



          1. David Greenwald

            The two most most interesting pieces of data are the decline in “move and cover” due to boundary drop/ decoupling and the decline in the training hours over the course of the year. I’ll have more on this tomorrow. Today I really just wanted to introduce the data.

    1. David Greenwald

      “maybe, we could have inquired of Chief Trauernicht to offer an explanation for this disparity (they’re his stats) before raising the red flag.”

      You can criticize me for how I have chosen to roll this stuff out. That’s certainly fair. But rest assured, I have done the research. It will come out this week.

  3. hpierce

    [Meant as a friendly assessment]  David… consider, on a piece like this, making clear in your headline/banner, perhaps put a question mark after an assertion you plan to really make/discuss more fully later.  Also, consider appending, either in the ‘headline’ or at the head of the piece, something like “part X of Y”.  Your headlines are often not reflective of the content.

    1. David Greenwald

      What I really need to do is write the headline last, not first. Because there are times when the article goes a different direction than I thought it would originally. In this case, however, the issue was somewhat different, which was my attempt to flag an issue that will be covered more fully later.

      1. PhilColeman

        Fair enough, David, and let’s all take an oath to just shut up and wait for further developments. In the spirit of conciliation, I totally retract my original post.

  4. Fire Chief Trauernicht (DFD/UCDFD)

    Good Evening All,

    First and foremost what should be recognized is the non-training related data.  It is impressive no matter what issues challenge shared managment.  Certainly a time for the community to be proud of improved services.

    With regards to the training data, you have to keep in mind that this is only a SEVEN month snap shot.  There can be any number of circumstances that impact training hours.  I do believe that it is reasonable to expect that the hourly trendline SHOULD remain relatively even, increase, or even occasionally dip down to a standard baseline before rising again.

    To help inform a broader picture I will be providing some additional training data for the entire 2013 calendar year that will allow people to compare and see trends based on what I have seen in the conversation here.

    Folks in this thread have also mentioned the possibility of a work slow down… While I can’t say that the order for a slow down has has been given (because I don’t know that to be a fact), I can say that we don’t get a lot of eager participation in committees, projects, and in some trainings.

    The reasoning that is commonly heard goes back to the contract imposition and a miriad of other issues.  Morale is very very very low and I actually sympathize with some of it as some of the issues put me, and the rest of the shared management team, in a frustrating if not impossible position of dealing with inherited issues that are significant in magnitude.  But, I remain hopeful that we will reach the day where even with the barriers to progress from bargaining and the stigma of fire reforms we will still find a way to move forward.

  5. Anon

    “Morale is very very very low and I actually sympathize with some of it as some of the issues put me, and the rest of the shared management team, in a frustrating if not impossible position of dealing with inherited issues that are significant in magnitude.”

    I sympathize with your predicament.

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