“Twenty-four hour coverage has been a goal for numerous years for our fire department,” said Riverside Fire Chief Tim Kurzejeski.
Kurzejeski said earlier this year, the Riverside Fire Department was awarded the SAFER grant through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which provided funding to staff the fire station with on-duty personnel 24-hours a day.
“Prior to the increase in coverage which began in March, after the day-shift personnel got off work, we relied on volunteer response during the overnight hours,” he said.
Kurzejeski said during a staffing need analysis, during a three-year period, two-thirds of the department’s emergency responses occurred during uncovered hours when the station was unmanned.
“There was a delay in response time to those calls, because our volunteers had to travel from their homes to the station to get response apparatus and then go out to the call,” he said.
Kurzejeski said there was also limited response availability due to the volunteers’ families and careers.
“Now, the trucks can be on the scene in three-to-five minutes,” he said. “Prior to that, the volunteer response time was 15-plus minutes. This has cut our response times by two-thirds. This provides a huge benefit to the life safety of residents here.”
Kurzejeski said there were volunteers who were already certified and qualified through in-house training, so the department was able to hire from within.
“The council increased the fire dues, so we are able to keep this coverage even after the grant ends,” he said.
Kurzejeski said there has been a very positive response so far.
“The increased coverage has had a very positive impact and the cost benefits are great assets for the city,” he said. “I want to thank the mayor and council for placing a priority on life safety and emergency services and the continued support of our citizens.”
Contact Elsie Hodnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.