Study says Fire Rescue needs more assets

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) The Fitch report included suggestions to add up to nine new personnel in the future.

    Other suggestions include a new fire station in Lemon Creek, additional apparatus at stations in Auke Bay and downtown Juneau, and a new ambulance to serve peak hours from 9 am until 9 pm.

    Fire Chief Rich Etheridge said they hired a consultant to look at the actual statistics and give an unbiased view of the needs the department has.  Call volumes are going up constantly and it is taking more time for crews to respond to calls.

    Chief Etheridge said the additional ambulance would cut down on response times, "One of our biggest needs in an additional ambulance.  They looked at peak hours.  The curves and graphs show 9 am until 9 pm are the busiest times."

    20 percent of calls are reported after midnight.  The vast majority of the total calls are for medical assistance and EMS.

    A new fire station in Lemon Creek would also cut down on response times.  It would also help residents and businesses by lowering home insurance bills, "The Lemon Creek area is the furthest point between downtown and Glacier Station.  Anything past five miles from a fire station pays the highest fire insurance rates possible."

    The department does hire additional staff during the tourist season.  That ambulance is funded through the cruise lines.  Another suggestion is to hire additional staff to take some of the load off Assistant Fire Chiefs who often work 70 hours per week.

    Etheridge said they also have problems in recruitment and retention of paramedics.  He noted that is a nation wide problem and not just in Juneau.

    The report predicted calls for service would increase to over 12,000 by the year 2025.

    "There is a need for the new employees.  We also have financial restraints.  We don't have an open check book where we can fill all of our needs right away.  its takes planning."

    The report showed the busiest months for calls are July and August and the slowest is February. 





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