Fire chief shares insights on

By: Interview Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
-A +A
Auburn City Fire Chief and Fire Marshal Mark D’Ambrogi shared with the Journal his thoughts on the 2011 fire report he delivered at Monday night’s City Council meeting. Highlights of the conversation follows. What are your thoughts on response times for the fire department? “It is just something I keep tabs on to see where we are. Between four and six minutes is a critical time. In a fire situation, you give a fire six minutes, it will get to a burning stage, so the quicker you get there the better off you are. In a medical situation if you are down and your heart stops beating, 6 minutes is a critical time to get you revived before you start to lose function. The ambulance provider can be anywhere around the area, which is typically anywhere from 8 to 15 minutes. The fire department can be there within that six minutes response time, start initial emergency services and let the paramedics perform the higher-level services when they arrive. What we did last year is 65 percent of all our calls we made within six minutes. We have a lot of code 2 calls, which are non-emergency. Our code 3 calls we made in an average of four minutes and 56 seconds. That is why we need a new reporting system so we can show the true facts. It is underneath the six month benchmark response time. If you want to deliver good service, you have to have something you are shooting for.” What stands out to you about this year’s fire report? It’s pretty routine. The one area was our vegetation fires. That was significantly lower this year than it has been in years past. It was a relatively quiet season in regard to outside fires. That was probably the one biggest factor. The past two years that has been very quiet. I think weather patterns have had something to do with that. I think overall people are being more cautious, too. The economy has something to do with it, too. There are probably not as many people out and about, traveling. They are being more low-key and staying home. Is there any particular reason for the busy days being Saturdays and the busy month being April? I think that’s conducive to our community because we have significant events on the weekend. Fridays people are getting into town. Saturday they are out and Sunday they are getting ready to leave. Friday/Saturday doesn’t surprise me. When you have people you have incidents. They are either falling, crashing their cars, starting fires. The month thing, January has been the busiest the two years before this. I think the reason why January popped up before is because we had some significant storm activity. April, for the life of me I couldn’t tell you. It was relatively a real mild spring and a real mild summer. Maybe everybody started their vacation early, out and about. You mentioned at City Council that the fleet of fire trucks and engines was aging and if you had more turnouts (fire gear) you could hire more volunteers. Share more about that. That is kind of the sign of the times with just the fiscal constraints that we have. Our apparatus replacement program, that program is based on what the city calls FEP, which is money from new development. When it was very robust, monies were coming into that. What has happened, over the past few years, development has slowed down to almost nothing. However, fire trucks are still rolling wheels and need to be replaced. Just because development has ceased, my fire trucks still need to be replaced. Some of that equipment that needed to be replaced a few years ago got pushed off. We need to kind of look outside the box, look at some alternatives. This is an ongoing program, whether there is development or not. We need to really kind of pursue and evaluate what we can do. We have one that we took out of service. We use it strictly for training purposes, primarily because of its age. The older fire apparatus, it’s very expensive to maintain. Parts are very expensive. Volunteers in our organization are strictly unpaid. We do have handfuls that have moved up to a volunteer position with low pay. We try to replace every turnout every five years. Some of them go a little longer, some go a little less. I have basically 30 sets of turnouts in our department. We try to do five sets a year and that is on a five-year cycle. There have been some times where I have only been able to do two sets a year, so you can see what happens. The old parts just kind of fall apart. That is an important piece of safety equipment. Again that is another fiscal constraint. That is one of our priority things. We continually have applications come into our organization all the time.” Reach Sara Seyydin at, or follow her on Twitter @AJ_News. _______________________________________________________ Fire report Infobox 2011 Fire Response Type of Incident Number of Incidents Fire 86 Explosion 2 EMS&Rescue 1,317 Hazardous Condition 36 Service Call 152 Good Intent Call 16 (well-meaning citizens who make a call that turns out not to be an incident) False Alarms (alarm) 85 is triggered at a business for an unknown reason) Special Type (any other 2 Miscellaneous calls) Total calls: 1,696 Response Times Arrival Minutes Number of Incidents Within 1 min. 23 1 to 2 minutes 103 2 to 3 minutes 121 3 to 4 minutes 215 4 to 5 minutes 305 5 to 6 minutes 325 6+ minutes 604 Average Response Time 6.13 minutes Code 2 (non-life 7.31 minutes Threatening) Code 3 4.56 minutes Fire agency call costs* Agency Cost per call City of Auburn $952 South Placer $4,000 Placer Hills $1,686 Newcastle $710 Loomis $1,300 City of Rocklin $1,845 City of Lincoln $1,117 City of Grass Valley $668 El Dorado Hills $5,971 Sacramento City $1,397 Sacramento Metro $1,886 City of South Lake Tahoe $2,400 El Dorado County $1,405 City of Folsom $2,680 *Cost to fire agency **Figures provide by Auburn City Fire Did you know? Auburn Fire Chief Mark D’Ambrogi provided the following statistics for the department for 2011 at Monday’s city council meeting. 58 – Number of incidents responded to on Interstate 80 95 – Number of incidents responded to on Highway 49 April – busiest month of the year with 160 calls Saturday – busiest day of the year Tuesday – least busiest day of the year