SPOKANE, Wash. - At the beginning of the year three Spokane fire stations will be required to use smaller vehicles when responding to medical calls. Starting January 2nd a new mandate from the Spokane Fire Department will require some of its firefighters to take smaller vehicles only equipped to handle EMS calls, as opposed to using the larger full-size ladder trucks.
"The biggest complaint we get from citizens is why take the big expensive trucks on medical calls," said Chief Bobby Williams, Spokane Fire Department.
The three Spokane fire stations will be: Station 11 (32nd Ave. and Perry) Station 13 (Wellesley and Jefferson) and Ladder 1 in downtown Spokane. (Riverside) Spokane Fire says 78 percent of their responses are only medical related, and this is a much more efficient way of operating. It also will help manage costs of maintaining and replacing aging ladder trucks.
"We're trying to be a more efficient and effective fire department so the public knows that we're wisely spending their dollars," said Williams. However, members of the Spokane Firefighters Union Local 29 say the new mandate could slow response times and firefighters safety. Because if a fire broke out while on a medical call they'd have to go back to the fire station to get a larger truck.
"As the fire grows every minute it grows it becomes even more difficult and less safe to get it under control," said Don Waller, Vice President of Local 29 Waller says based off experience, simultaneous call happens often enough they won't be able to do their job as effectively.
But while Chief Bobby Williams says there are time that may happen, the statistics show it doesn't happen enough to justify not finding a more efficient way to operate the fire department.
"In the case when we do have a fire call then we will dispatch and sent crews to complement the people we need to manage that call," said Williams. The fire department is expected to officially announce their plan next Wednesday.