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Frequently Asked Questions Continued
Updated On: Aug 07, 2012

9.How many calls do the Dearborn Fire Department Run every year?

Dearborn Fire runs more than 10,000 calls per year.

Year     Medical       Fire        Total Calls

1980:            3815     2093     =  5,908 (125 Firefighters)

1990:            4999     1883     =  6,882 (117 Firefighters & 3 BLS Transporting Ambulances, BLS Engines)

2000:            7092     2019     =  9,111 (120 Firefighters & 4 ALS Transporting Ambulances, ALS Engines)

2010:            7502     2527     = 10,029 (120 Firefighters & 4 ALS Transporting Ambulances, ALS Engines)

(2011 Dearborn Fire ran 10,843 runs)

*** ALS = Advanced Life Support, BLS = Basic Life Support

*** Each call equals one scene.  There are typically multiple apparatus and/or patients on one scene.

10.Who determines what Apparatuses are needed for a determined call?  

Our dispatch is located in the police station.  Many times the type of situation found upon arrival is very different from the situation portrayed to dispatch over the 911 phone call.  People experiencing the emergency and under stress of the moment, understandably do not always accurately describe a situation to dispatch.  Units are dispatched according to information received by Dispatch.  Dispatch always errors on the side of caution and dispatches for the worst case scenario so the firefighters do not arrive to an emergency understaffed and underequipped.  It is better for the scene commander to return staffing/equipment back to the station than to realize they needed more help and not have it available on scene. Discovering that we need more units upon arrival is often too late. Experience has taught us that it’s better to have too much help than not enough.

11.Why do fire trucks with full lights and sirens go through red lights at intersections and then, after they go through, they turn off their lights and slow down?

Emergency lights and siren are used only when responding to a call.  Sometimes several units are dispatched to the same incident. When the first unit arrives on scene, they may assess the situation and inform the dispatcher they can handle the emergency.  All other responding units are then cancelled and put back into service, ready to take another call.

12.Why do so many fire apparatuses respond to simple incidents

A "Standard Response Plan" policy is utilized on all responses. This system is a pre-designated formula that determines the amount and type of equipment that may be needed and sent to the incident. For example, a residential structure fire includes a minimum of F2 (Incident commander), one ladder truck, two engine companies, and two rescues. These plans ensure adequate staffing and equipment for typical fires.  If these units are not needed, they are released by the Incident Commander.

13.Why do Fire Engines respond on medical runs with an Ambulance/rescue?

The rescues are staffed with 2 paramedics.  The Fire Engines are staffed with 3 paramedics.  If the person calling 911 portrays an incident which sounds like a serious medical emergency to the dispatcher, both an ambulance and an engine are sent.  The Dearborn Firefighters are bringing the emergency room to you.  When you are in an emergency room at a hospital, there are multiple people helping a critically ill patient.  Firefighters/paramedics are no different.  They also need to have multiple personnel on scene to adequately provide the highest level of services for the patient.

14.Why doesn’t the City hire separate EMS workers or privatize EMS?  They could work for less than firefighters and work 8 hour shifts?  Shouldn’t firefighters only put out fires?   

Dual trained firefighter/paramedics are used nationally to get the most "bang for the buck".  EMS delivery generates nearly $1,750,000 in revenue to help subsidize the delivery and expenses.  Dearborn's fire and EMS delivery is recognized as one of the best and most efficient in the nation. Career firefighters/paramedics are loyal to the City and its residents.  They generally stay and dedicate their entire career to Dearborn.  Dual trained firefighters allow Dearborn Fire to provide ample and safe responses to more than one incident that occur simultaneously in Dearborn, which is very common.  Having separate EMS workers would only limit firefighter staffing at fires and other emergencies because EMS workers would only do EMS.  Being both firefighters and paramedics allows Dearborn Firefighter’s the versatility and

ability to provide the safest and the highest level of services available.  In addition, without dual trained firefighters, it would not allow the Fire Department to meet the National Fire Protection Agency’s (NFPA) guidelines for response times and staffing level on scenes.

15.Why do firefighters break windows and cut holes in roofs when the fire is inside a building? It seems that they are causing more damage than the fire?

Fire in a building creates a tremendous amount of heat and smoke. In many instances, firefighters must remove this heat and smoke before they can get close enough to extinguish the fire.  The reduced heat and improved visibility allow firefighters to safely and quickly rescue trapped occupants and extinguish the fire.  Heat and smoke rise, so cutting a hole in the roof and breaking out windows in strategic locations allows the superheated-black smoke to vent out and cool air to enter the structure from below. This process is called "ventilation". It also reduces the possibilities of backdraft (an explosion of heated gases) and flashover. By venting the window of a room that is on fire, it actually helps to contain the fire to the room of origin. Otherwise, superheated gases spread throughout the inside of a structure and further spread the fire. Breaking a window really prevents more damage than it appears to cause.

16.Why do firefighters retire a little younger than other professions?

Firefighting is a physically demanding job where you cannot work effectively and safely into your golden years.  Firefighters do not receive social security benefits and the City does not pay into the social security system for us. We pay into our pension plans along with the City.

17.Why not have a hybrid department comprised of fulltime and volunteer firefighters in Dearborn?  Wouldn’t that be more efficient?

While volunteer firefighters perform a vital function in smaller communities that have considerably fewer runs annually, Dearborn residents expect more from their Fire Department and firefighters.  The Dearborn Firefighters respond to over 10,000 calls annually, with an average response time of 4 minutes.  This is something volunteers, who have other responsibilities to their primary employment and family, cannot guarantee to provide when responding from their “real” job or home.  Also, this large volume of runs would likely create “burn-out” for those who would be continuously responding from home or their principal place of employment.

While we appreciate what volunteers do in rural communities, hybrid systems or volunteers would never work as efficiently nor have the ability to provide the same level of or variety of services in such a busy community as Dearborn.  Dearborn firefighters have dedicated their lives to public safety – fulltime – all the time, not when it is convenient. Volunteers may take firefighting serious, but it is impossible to have the same commitment, training, and experience as professionals who do it every day. If a volunteer did, their real profession would suffer as well as their family.  Volunteers have to take breaks from their principal employment to think about and train for firefighting/ems/rescue.  Career firefighters don't, it is their real job so they do it all the time.

Dearborn Fire has stringent minimum requirements to be eligible to apply for employment.  Applicants must already have obtained a paramedic license, State Certified Firefighter I & II, and an associate’s degree or equivalent.  This would be an unreasonable expectation for a part-paid or volunteer firefighter to obtain prior to employment.  Many who did have these requirements would only use Dearborn Fire for experience and in many cases move on to another career department.  All of the money spent for their gear and on-the-job trainings, plus time invested in the employee would

be lost.  If the Department should decide to not have these same requirements to apply and pay to put these part-paid (volunteer) employees through these schools, it is very expensive and time consuming.  For example, paramedic school is a 1-2 year school, costs thousands of dollars and is a serious time commitment.  Fire Academy is again a very time consuming and costly school.  Firefighters who put in this kind of time investment are likely going to continue to look for career employment.  Dearborn Fire would lose employees that have had several thousand dollars and a few years of time invested into them.  In addition, once on the job, there are several more schools, education, and certifications acquired. The magnitude of technical training that is required of Dearborn Firefighters is very expensive and they are continually increasing their skill-sets.  The extensive training and education requirements provide Dearborn Firefighters with the tools to be able to provide the highest level of services.  It is cost-effective to retain highly trained, loyal, career employees.

Anyone that unfortunately needs Dearborn Firefighter’s emergency services can be comforted in knowing that caring, trained professionals will always respond in  matter of minutes to assist them in potentially one of the worst experiences of their life.

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