Despite population boom, Pasco Fire responds to emergencies faster

PASCO, Wash. -- It's no secret the Tri-Cities has seen quite a population boom in recent years, causing Pasco fire to get creative.

It's a no-brainer: A quick response is critical during an emergency if you want the best chance of success.

"Every second that we can shave off the beginning of that event, our turnout is going to make a big difference at the end of the event," says Deputy Chief Dave Hare, Pasco Fire.

Focusing on seconds is what has led Pasco Fire to improve its response times for five straight years; something that is especially impressive considering Pasco's explosive population growth.

How did it happen? By focusing on the little things, which all add up.

Things like training firefighters to change into gear faster. In the last few years, this alone has cut 30 seconds off response times.

Then there's an unassuming computer called a mobile data terminal. With the simple tap of a button, firefighters map out a direct route to a fire. Dispatchers no longer need to help. It not only frees up radio time, but also allows rescuers to get to an emergency faster. The entire route is mapped out before a fire truck even leaves the garage.

Compare that to the way it used to be. As recently as the 1990s, firefighters in Pasco would locate a fire by looking into the sky and seeing where smoke was coming from.

KEPR also checked into whether changes at the donut hole might have artificially improved response times.

Pasco Fire stopped responding to the donut hole as of February 1st
Deputy Chief Hare says the data only reflects responses within the city limits, and not anything in the county.

The improved response times were earned one second at a time.