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Firefighters Union Blasts Response Time

by Elizabeth Ruiz

It's a matter of life or death and San Antonio Firefighters Association President Chris Steele says the emergency services response time here isn't good enough.

The National Fire Protection Association says it should take an average of 6 minutes 90 percent of the time, but San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood says that's not realistic.

"That standard was established in 2001 before we had an economic downturn and fire departments were larger," Hood told 550 KTSA News.

The San Antonio Fire Department's average response time has been reduced from 9:24 in 2010 to 7:38 this year.  

"Houston has a response time of around 12 minutes.  If you go look at other departments our size, nobody's able to do that in 6 minutes," said Hood.

As the budget talks continue at city hall, Steele is calling on the City Council to allocate more resources for the fire department. 

"We understand that there are other things that the city needs to do like fix potholes and things like that, but we need to make sure that our loved ones can call 9-1-1 and get the medical care they need in a timely manner," said Steele.

He believes the city can come up with more money for the fire department if council members prioritize. 

"This is not about us getting additional pay.  It's not about anything like that.  It's about getting the resources we need to improve the response time," Steele told 550 KTSA News.

Hood notes the fire department has added 167 firefighter positions, 7 EMS Units, 4 fire companies, 6 replacement stations and 2 new fire stations since 2006. 

In addition, programs have been added to address the increase in medical calls, such as fire units dispatched without an EMS unit, Advanced Life Support and the taxi voucher program.

"We want the public to be assured that we're going to get there as fast as we can and take care of the issue, whatever it is," said Hood.

Steele notes the American Heart Association recommends a 4-minute response time to a call for a cardiac arrest.

"My Dad is 88-years-old and if he has a heart attack, 7-minutes-38-seconds won't work for him," said Steele.

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Locations : Houston
People : Charles HoodChris Steele
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