The City of Tulsa released the findings of a Tulsa Fire Department analysis done by the Center for Public Safety Management. The group evaluated TFD in several areas including response times, staffing, equipment, management and capital investment options that may be funded through the Vision sales tax.
The study gives Tulsa firefighters 40 recommendations, but it also highlights 10 things the Center for Public Safety Management says the department is doing right - like its smoke detector program.
When a home or building is on fire, getting to it as quickly as possible is always a firefighter's goal.
Tulsa Fire Chief Ray Driskell says the ideal response time for firefighters is six minutes or less. His department reaches that goal about 87 percent of the time, but he says that's not good enough.
One recommendation from the Center for Public Safety Management study is to reduce the response time in east Tulsa, something the chief says is already being addressed with plans to build a new station.
Driskell said, "There's several neighborhoods out there that have developed over the recent years, and we're not responding to them like we are the rest of the city and we need to fix that. That doesn't need to stay the same."
The fire chief says the immediate priority for the department is to build a station in east Tulsa. It will be paid for in part by Vision money, but it's unclear when construction will begin.
But, there are other recommendations - like hiring civilians as fire marshals and inspectors - that might need a little more discussion with city leaders.
"If you've been a fireman, you've been on a firetruck - you know a lot more about fire behavior, you know a lot more about what a fire is gonna do on a structure and what the codes mean to us. So, I can see a big benefit to having the fire marshals having firefighting experience over a civilian," Captain Jerry Gibbens said.
Mayor Dewey Bartlett said the study also focused on the medical calls the department performs as part of the city's emergency medical services. Findings include a recommendation to form two-person squads to respond to medical calls while keeping fire engines available for fire calls.
About two-thirds of the department's calls are medical, Bartlett said.
Recommendations being considered:
The following recommendations have already been implemented by the department, according to Mayor Dewey Bartlett:
“The report confirms that many of the things we are doing are right on target,” said Chief Ray Driskell. “The report includes smart recommendations for first response emergency medical service and zeros in on strengthening our public education program for more aggressive fire prevention programs."