On the scene

tporter@lsjournal.comApril 10, 2013 

  • More information 6 Time in minutes – or less – that Lee’s Summit Fire Chief Keith Martin said is the norm for a fire department’s average response time. The LSFD averaged five minutes, 19 seconds in 2011 in response to fire and/or medical emergencies.

The response times for fire-related and/or medical emergencies for the Lee’s Summit Fire Department is at or below the department’s stated target according to the latest data compiled by the LSFD.

According to Lee’s Summit Fire Department Chief Keith Martin, the average response time to fire, medical emergencies and other related calls for the year 2011 was five minutes and 19 seconds. By comparison, neighboring Independence Fire Department posted an overall average response time of four minutes, 38 seconds in 2011, Lake Lotawana Fire Protection District averaged six minutes, 31 seconds and the Central Jackson County Fire Protection District’s average response time for both emergency and non-emergency calls were five minutes, 52 seconds.

Lake Lotawana’s time – which included mutual aid calls to other departments – and the average time of the CJCFPD were for the 2012 year, while departments in Lee’s Summit and Independence are in the process of compiling their 2013 annual report which will contain response times for 2012.

The department in Lake Lotawana averaged five minutes, 54 seconds in response to medical emergencies without mutual aid.

“That’s another reason why we send the closest available unit to a call,” Martin said of the department’s protocol. “No matter what the call is we send the closest available unit. So if you have a smoke detector going off in your house because the batteries are low then we would send a fire truck out…but, it may take a little longer sometimes because if they’re busy on another call then the truck is going to have to come from somewhere else. We try to send the closest available unit and we strive to keep our time down to five, five-and-a-half minutes. That’s the goal we have set for ourselves.”

The LSFD has a staff of 146 full-time employees, which includes 129 sworn-in personnel. It’s communications center houses 13 employees and provides dispatch services to Lake Lotawana as well. The department is organized into administration, emergency services and fire prevention.

Emergency services personnel are trained in fire protection, emergency medical services, rescue services, hazardous materials response and emergency management situations within Lee’s Summit, Greenwood and Unity Village.

“We’re cross-trained in many different areas,” Martin said. “That way we don’t have to wait for a truck to come from clear up north if there is a rescue call – that’s not a rescue company necessarily. Or if it is, the guy (at another station) is equally trained. That why we get units on the scene as fast as possible. Everybody being cross-trained makes a whole lot more sense.”

The department, which responded to 9,147 calls in 2011 – 5,947 of them emergency medical calls – operates on an annual budget of close to $16 million.

“Obviously there are portions of the city that are farther out. They also don’t have the density of population there, so it’s a situation where you can’t put a station everywhere to be quick as possible,” Jim Eden, assistant fire chief, said of the many variables that go into compiling response times. “You have to locate stations where they serve the greatest amount of people within the city but still try to maintain our average response times.”

“Like (Eden) said, we can’t have a station on every corner, but I think they are very well laid out,” Martin added. “We’re very satisfied with our response time. Five or six minutes is a good time frame.”

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