Yakima Fire Department Addressing Higher Response Times in 2013 - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Yakima Fire Department Addressing Higher Response Times in 2013

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YAKIMA, WA.--The Yakima Fire Department's annual report is out, and it shows that firefighters are taking a little longer to respond to emergencies than they would like.

The goal is always to get there as quickly as possible. That's why the Yakima Fire Department is taking a good hard look at why their response times in 2013 were higher than the year before and below the target standard.

"We're trying to unbundle it best we can, and analyze every portion of it and see what we can realistically do about decreasing the amount of time it takes to get to those emergencies," said Captain Tom Schneider with the Yakima Fire Department.

According to the fire department's adopted standards, the first firefighter engine should get to a call in four minutes. In 2013, crews averaged a time of 4 minutes and 49 seconds.

The same applies to the department's EMS calls. The first Basic Life Support (BLS) unit should also arrive on scene in four minutes. Yakima firefighters averaged four minutes and 44 seconds last year.

Firefighters said they'll be looking at every aspect of how the department operates, including the newly implemented Criteria Based Dispatch Program. This program allows crews to not send a fire truck to every medical call. Depending on the situation, the city could just send an ambulance.

"Before we would just go on anything," said Captain Schneider. "If anyone picked up the phone for any reason and said there's a problem we'd just go, and that time is gone."

Firefighters said the goal for 2014 is to thoroughly look at response times and create a 5-year plan based on community needs.

The fire department said the city has allotted a lot more money for their training budget. Crews said they'll use these funds to look at new technologies and new methods based on the changing demographics of the community.