Station closure lengthens response times

The closure of Spokane Valley Fire Station 6 has increased response times in the west end of the city.

The average response time for advanced life support calls increased by 27 seconds and the average time for basic life support calls increased by a minute and 18 seconds, Capt. Pat Schaffer said.

The station was closed in March for demolition and rebuilding. Station 6 crews are now responding out of Station 1 near the old University City Mall, and the department has an agreement with the Spokane Fire Department to have its trucks respond in certain areas of Spokane Valley.

The dispatch center automatically sends both a Valley Fire engine and a Spokane Fire engine on all calls on the west end of Spokane Valley. If a call is for a nonlife-threatening situation and a delay will not negatively impact the patient, the Spokane engine is canceled, Schaffer said. That policy is what has increased the response times for basic life support calls so much, he said.

The policy is in place to keep the Spokane engines in their primary response area as much as possible, Schaffer said. And when a Spokane crew does respond, it can be delayed for lacking the Opticon equipment needed to turn red lights to green on approach. The equipment is in all Valley firetrucks.

“They have to stop at the stop lights or clear the intersection,” Schaffer said. “That’s going to slow their response.”

The department plans to continue monitoring the response times during construction. The new Station 6 is expected to be complete this fall.

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