As a 28- year veteran of the fire service, I am proud to lead such a diverse group of firefighters and serve as your Fire Chief. The men and women that serve our Department are bound by a commitment to help all those in need and constantly pursue ways to enhance our services to the public. Each day, the Department grows stronger through innovation and our commitment to train both our minds and bodies. Every firefighter is in a constant state of readiness, prepared for the next call no matter how big or small.
Almost 60% of all 911 calls to the Porterville Fire Department require emergency medical attention. The American Heart Association© says brain deterioration starts between 4-6 minutes after a person stops breathing. Our team strives daily to meet a targeted fire response timeframe of 5.5 minutes and a medical aid response timeframe of 5 minutes. Our goal in Porterville is according to the National Fire Protection Association’s standards that we should be meeting these targeted timeframes 90% of the time—but we’re not there.
As our population and city boundaries continue to expand, we must be prepared to address any increase in 911 call volume. All structure fires immediately dispatch all available personnel to that effort. However, this reduces the ability to respond to another emergency, if one should happen while that fire is being managed.
The Fire Department has maximized both resources and personnel to achieve rapid response times. However, in recent years the Department has experienced an increase in call volume by 14.08%, due to our growing population. The needs for emergency response, fire prevention and public education has come to a point where the Department must increase its firefighters to maintain its current service delivery --or risk reduced level of services. A reduction in level of service would depart from the standard of care this community is accustomed to and could result in fire classifications that results in higher fire insurance rates for our residents and our ability to reach people who need 911 response services.
The Porterville City Council placed Measure I – a local one-cent sales tax measure – on the November 6th ballot. If enacted, Measure I could provide funding to maintain police, fire and emergency response times. Measure I could also allow the Fire Department additional funding for safety personnel and handle swells in call volume and to maintain our current service delivery.
For more information on Measure I, visit www.ci.porterville.ca.us
Dave LaPere is Chief of the Porterville Fire Department