Tacoma Fire Department staffing, station changes ahead

Tacoma Fire Chief Jim Duggan announced Wednesday the fire department will roll out some changes to staffing and engine houses beginning in February.

The changes outlined by Chief Duggan include:

  • Station 6, located at 1015 E. F St., will close, reducing the number of active fire stations from 16 to 15. The station closure also reduces the number of frontline fire engine (pumper) companies from 14 to 13. During the 2011-12 biennium, the Tacoma Fire Department staffed 16 frontline fire engine companies;
  • On-duty frontline staffing will decrease to 69 personnel from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and to 67 personnel from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. During the 2011-12 biennium, frontline staffing was 74 personnel, 24 hours per day;
  • Station 13, located at 3825 N. 25th St., will return to 24-hour staffing for EMS and ladder company service. Fire engine pumper service for the Proctor neighborhood will continue to be provided from Station 14 and Station 9, both located within a four-minute travel time from Station 13. Ladder 3 will move from Station 9 to Station 13. Along with Ladder 3, Station 13 will continue to house the 12-hour Squad 13. Station 9, located at 6th Avenue, will house Engine 9, Battalion 1, and a turn-key reserve fire engine;
  • The Fire Department Cares Program will launch in February, providing Tacoma Fire Department personnel with a referral mechanism for people who repeatedly call 911 for health conditions that are not medical emergencies, or for assistance with daily living tasks;
  • Fireboat Destiny will move from Thea Foss Waterway to the Tacoma Yacht Club until moorage available at the former Station 5 on Ruston Way, anticipated in late spring 2014. Personnel from Station 14, located at 4701 N. 41st St., will cross-staff the fireboat;
  • Two uniformed personnel assigned to the Training Center will provide additional Port-area EMS response during business hours. The Tacoma Fire Department training center is located on Marshall Avenue in the heart of the Port area. When available, the 40-hour-per-week training captain and 40-hour-per-week training paramedic will be the first arriving responders to emergency incidents that occur within a four-minute travel time of the Training Center.

“As an existing efficiency, ladder company firefighters are certified emergency medical technicians and perform the same role as engine (pumper) company firefighters for medical emergencies such as heart attacks and strokes,” said Duggan. “Moving Ladder 3 to Station 13 will provide two benefits. First, it improves EMS coverage in high-demand areas along North Pearl Street. Second, it increases Engine 9’s availability to provide backup coverage for Engine 16 to the west, and Engine 4 and Engine 1 to the east. The backup coverage to the east has become more important with the closure of Station 6. It is important for the public to know that no single fire station in our system houses all the equipment and firefighters required to suppress even a one-room house fire. Crews from at least five stations converge on a typical fire scene.”

Tacoma Fire Chief Jim Duggan. (PHOTO COURTESY CITY OF TACOMA)