With fire departments seeing an increase in EMS based call volumes many are calling for the NFPA to address the needs of fire based EMS. One new mandate will see NFPA 1901 call for any new fire apparatus purchased by city’s with fire-medics have BLS capabilities.
So called “Franken-rigs” for the Frankenstein’s Monster like mash up of both ambulance and fire engine, are already in service in some communities. As soon as the new mandate goes into effect many more will see these BLS engines rolling out to calls.
Chief Fred Pozhar says the BLS engine should save his department money. “This will make for a great cost savings. Right now I need to have an engine, a ladder truck and an ambulance parked in my garage. I also have to staff a full crew for each vehicle. With all my firefighters certified as paramedics, now I only need to staff the engine and ladder. Fewer people per shift will save tax payers loads of money.”
Union officials fear layoffs. The city says that based on anticipated retirements and promotions no one will be let go. The department will just hold off on hiring new staff.
Firefighters question the safety of having a engine out of service to run medical calls. Many counter with statistics of fewer fire calls being run by many departments and increased use of sprinkler systems.
According to Chief Pozhar he wishes both Engines and Trucks were forced to have the BLS compartments. “If I could also get a ladder on one of these ‘Franken-rigs’ it would majorly help. That would give me two full EMS crews out taking calls. It would also allow the milage for the vehicles to be split between vehicles.”
Many cities are saying they will get rid of fire based EMS if they are forced to by a BLS engine.