Fire Station 14 is located at Tudor and Baxter and houses Engine 14, Tender 14, and Battalion Chief 3. Station 14 is the base of all Wildland Firefighting activites and house the resources for this.
A full bio will be available shortly.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Fire Engines carry small hose used to attack fires, large hose used to pump water from a hydrant to another engine, and ground ladders. Typically engines will carry 3-4 personnel. Engines also respond to medical calls, so they carry Advanced Life Support equipment such as cardiac monitors. In an Emergency Medical System like we have here in Anchorage, engines respond with Mobile Intensive Care Units (ambulances) to assist with patient care, or in the event that an ambulance is unable to respond right away, to initiate patient interventions and stabilize the situation until an ambulance can get to the scene. There are 14 fire engines in the Anchorage Fire Service Area, covering just under 1700 square miles.
Mobile Intensive Care Units are more commonly known as ambulances, and are primarily used to provide emergency medical treatment and patient transports to area hospitals. Ambulances typically carry a crew of two firefighters, one of which is a Paramedic, and the other usually an Emergency Medical Technician. There are 8 ambulances spread throughout the Anchorage bowl and Eagle River. Downtown, Airport Heights, Tudor, Spenard, Muldoon, Huffman, Eagle River, and Dimond. These ambulances transported 13,475 patients in 2008 with one ambulance transporting almost 3000 alone.
Ladder trucks are easily recognizable due to the large aerial ladder attached to the top of the truck. Truck companies usually carry 3 personnel and are primarily used on fires to search for and rescue victims, ventilate structures using large fans and saws, and shutting off utilities. Aerial ladders can be used to rescue victims in upper floors of high rise buildings, and nozzles at the end of the ladder can be used to fight fire where hand held nozzles are ineffective. Trucks also respond to vehicle accidents where extrication tools (jaws-of-life) are necessary, industrial accidents, and water problems, and in the event that no fire engines or ambulances are near, will go to medical calls. Presently there are 5 truck companies operating in the Anchorage Fire Department. They’re located in Eagle River, Downtown, Airport Heights, Spenard, and Dimond.
Water tenders are staffed with a single operator, and carry 2,500 gallons of water to support fire attacks in un-hydranted areas such as Stuckagain Heights, Eagle River, or the Hillside. During extended fire operations in un-hydranted areas, all 5 AFD tenders may be used, as several may be coming back and forth from the incident scene to a water source, while the remainder of the AFD’s water tenders will be actually supplying water to engines and trucks actively fighting the fire.
Battalion Chiefs respond to incidents in suburbans. There are two types of Battalion Chiefs on the Anchorage Fire Department; Fire Battalion Chiefs, and Chief Medical Officers (CMO). These individuals are typically the most senior ranking officials on calls, and will often be in command of major incidents such as structure fires and cardiac arrests. On most days, there are three Fire BC’s and one CMO on duty at a time.
All Line Operations employees of the Anchorage Fire Department are cross-trained in fire suppression and emergency medical response, so medical incidents require the dispatch of one fire engine and one ambulance. Fore more serious calls such as cardiac arrest, the CMO will accompany the initial units to facilitate any needs and notify the receiving hospital of the situation. The majority of structure fires require three fire engines, one truck company, one ambulance, two Fire BCs, and the CMO. Of course, every call is dynamic in nature, and may require more or less resources.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
We posted this letter yesterday, but the views were so overwhelming we felt the need to share with all viewers. Captain Southwick is an Officer at AFD’s Fire Station 14 (Tudor / Baxter). Station 14 houses a fire engine, water tender, and Battalion Chief 3. This fire station was added to AFD’s service to provide coverage to an area of Anchorage that had unacceptable response times for both fire and medical calls. Fire Station 14 also serves as our Wildland firefighting headquarters during the summer months.
Captain Southwick read a recent response a concerned citizen received from his assembly member when he called to discuss his worry regarding a fire station closure in his area. The individual’s response he received was that fire/ems services were only effected by 1 minute due to closures. Here is his response:
Is it true that your understanding is that rolling closures only affect response time by about 1 minute?
As an AFD captain going on 19 years of service in this dept I would challenge that assumption. That may be true when the call (fire or ems) is close to the border of the closed company/station and the nearest neighboring company. However, when for instance station 6 is closed and a call comes in from N Muldoon (anywhere along the border by the Glen hwy) it is going to take engine 14 several minutes longer to get there. Engine 14 would be considered the second in engine east of Boniface. You could make a similar scenario for every response area in town.
Granted 2 or 3 minutes won’t make a major difference on many of the calls we go to. But when it really matters it can absolutely, truly, be the difference between life and death, or at the very least the quality of life for a fire or cardiac arrest victim.
Another factor not commonly considered is our own safety. There is a critical break over point (during a fire) where it goes from a routine, straight forward, fire to a significant fire. When that happens the chances of civilian survival in that structure diminish dramatically. Once that threshold is crossed the difficulty of extinguishment and rescue don’t just get a bit harder to accomplish. The difficulty and complexity starts to compound exponentially. When it crosses that threshold the first arriving engine captain has some very stressful decisions to make, instantly, about how aggressive to be. Part of that decision is based on how long is the next arriving engine or truck going to take to arrive. When we know it is barely a minute out we care be very aggressive because we know back-up is right behind us. When we know we will be operating alone, even for a couple minutes, it alters how deep and fast we can safely enter to protect the egress for a rescue or for us to make that rescue ourselves.
To compound things the safety officers are now gone. Their job was solely to monitor the scene, progress of the fire, results of our actions, and look out for the multitude of other hazards easily overlooked by the crews operating inside. Their job was to be our safety net so that we feel confident that we can be aggressive and do our job without undue risk of death or major injury.
In lieu of safety officers the plan is now to dispatch an additional engine “when deemed necessary” so that captain can take on the safety officer role. As a matter of fact engine 2 was not able to respond to a fire in Mountain View yesterday (9/09/09) because it had been dispatched to do the safety officer role at a minor incident in midtown. So another engine was dispatched in its place. On a day of closures we are now not only short the closed companies but also an additional company if they send one to cover the safety officer job. The city is now down several companies above and beyond the initial response to the original fire. When a second fire occurs (and that does happen occasionally) you can guarantee there are going to be some significant delays. This is especially alarming when we are most certainly going to actually eliminate companies completely in the not too distant future. This scenario is surely spiraling towards a very bad event, either for a citizen or a firefighter. I hate to say it but the admin in house and downtown are glossing this over far too much. While they may not like this being said I challenge them to deny that it is the truth.
Fire Captain, AFD, Station 14