Suisun City, CA, Fire Chief Says New Stations Needed

June 7, 2024
Response times to calls in certain areas would improve if new stations are constructed, Suisun Chief Brad Lopez said.

Jun. 5—When presenting his department's annual report to the city council on Tuesday evening, Suisun City Fire Chief Brad Lopez highlighted the strengths of his department during 2023 while being mindful that many future goals are costly projects that will take strategic financial planning.

According to the report, 68 percent of Suisun Fire calls for service in 2023 were for Emergency Medical Services.

"A majority of our call volume is EMS or medical in nature," said Lopez. "Fires are relatively low in our community, fortunately, but we do have fires on occasions."

Suisun City Fire responded to 3,321 incidents in 2023, according to the report. Of those, 2,268 were rescue and emergency medical service calls, 311 were good intent calls and 330 were service calls — which Lopez referred to as "non-emergency public assistance type calls," 183 were responses to fire, 173 were false alarm calls, 43 were responses to hazardous conditions and 6 were special incident responses.

Data from the report indicated that the department's average response time in 2023 was four minutes 40 seconds — which is just above the 4-minute industry standard — and, on a typical day, the department responded to approximately nine incidents.

"We do have extended response times through the extended outer portion of our community so there are some challenges," said Lopez. "When we emphasize response times, that's how we measure our performance metrics."

According to Lopez, the area of Suisun City to the far west, which is known as the Marina and downtown area, as well as the far east area are the portions of the city with the biggest response time objective challenges. According to the report, response times in these areas last year were on average about 5-6 minutes which Lopez does not yet meet the 4-minute average industry response time standard.

Last year, the department also completed 3,100 hours of training, according to Lopez.

"If we're not responding to emergencies and calls for service, firefighters conduct a lot of trainings," said Lopez. "That is in order to maintain a lot of the certifications that we're required to have, particularly with our emergency medical technicians and paramedics."

In addition to annual certification trainings, Lopez says department personnel also participate in trainings in several categories including boat operations, fire suppression, wild land firefighting, urban search and rescue, leadership training and firefighter health and wellness training focused on the mental health of fire personnel.

Shortly after taking the reins of the department in August of 2022, Lopez said he held a goal setting workshop in early 2023 to provide a "pivot" overview of where the department stood at that point in time.

"It was important to understand what our strengths and weaknesses and opportunities and threats were," said Lopez. "It really helped us hone in and identify some key objectives."

The annual report outlined several accomplishments achieved by the department in 2023 since the workshop was held, including a New Hire Academy, which was a council-supported initiative to up-staff the department with a second fire engine.

"It is still relatively new for the community and the city, but I will share with you operationally, we are better serving emergencies with this additional staffing," said Lopez. "This was a critical need for the department. Our department, as far as call volume, with one engine and 3,300 calls — that's a tremendous amount of call volume for one engine company to handle. And it's not uncommon for our department to have three simultaneous calls going at one time. So, our ability today — we're able to respond effectively to emergencies, especially when we get those double hits or simultaneous calls for service."

Lopez said the department also engaged in a public-private partnership with Medic Ambulance to implement the first Responder Fee Reimbursement program, which Lopez said allows the department to collect reimbursement monies for the advanced life support service parametric program, which helps the department help offset the costs of the program.

Looking to the future, Lopez said it doesn't come as a surprise that one of the challenges faced by the department is their need for more fire stations.

"Where our fire station is located today, it's centrally located and it works well probably 20 years ago, but where we are today, we need two more fire stations," said Lopez. "That, again, ties back to response times. We are simply not able to get to certain areas or particular areas of the city in an effective and efficient time, so these are things, long-term goals that we're looking and striving for and at the end of the day these are very costly projects."


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