Experts don’t agree on whether that is true — there are too many variables involved to make a statement that will cover all circumstances.
But firefighters agree on two things: fires will grow quickly if fuel and air are available, and if they can put enough water on a house fire, they can stop it.
Riverside’s mostly volunteer Fire and Rescue Service has taken a big step toward providing better protection for people and property in its coverage area by getting funding needed to have someone on duty 24 hours per day. A two-year FEMA SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) grant provided enough money to pay three people for two years starting last March, and the city council — after taking time to poll area residents — increased the city’s fire fee to be able to continue 24-hour coverage after the grant money ends.
The city’s annual fire fee went up from $36 to $60 in 1999, and was increased another $36 per year to make that happen.
Riverside firefighters said two-thirds of their calls were coming in at times when no one was on duty at the station. With a volunteer department, response times can vary tremendously. When someone is at the station, the hope is to be able to get the appropriate equipment where it’s needed within a three-to-five minute window. Volunteer response time could otherwise be 15 minutes or more, and there may be times when no volunteers are available to respond due to other responsibilities.
That’s a lot of time for a fire to grow, and a lot of time for people to suffer in emergencies where a firefighter’s training could mean the difference between life and death.