Firefighters work to knock down high response times

Posted at 6:10 PM, Dec 06, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-06 18:18:30-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- After a fire forced a family out of a West End Henrico home this week, fire response times are top of mind for many Central Virginians.

“Especially when I’m here living by myself,” said Jacqueline Cooper, who is particularly worried about the time is would take for Henrico crews to come to her rescue.

Cooper said she thinks Henrico's average of 7 minutes and 20 seconds is "a little long.”

Henrico fire officials agree and that's why they're working to lower response times.

Henrico Captain Jeff Powell said the real detriment is the time it takes for 911 calls to get relayed to the right crew.

“There's new technology available that we're examining to see if that can help get us on the road quicker,” said Powell.

This problem persists in Chesterfield, too, with an average response time of 8 minutes and 28 seconds.  During a fire at a VDOT storage building last month, it took crews 10 minutes to arrive.

Like Henrico, officials said crews are taking too much time to get out the door. According to department leaders, they're examining the process, along with adding a new fire station off Harrogate Rd.

The City of Richmond is trying to lower its response time, but its challenges differ. One of their biggest obstacles are narrow streets, typically lined with parked cars.

As a result, the city purchased smaller fire trucks and equipment for some of its station. That has helped the city maintain one of the lowest response times in the region, at just under 6 minutes.

The National Fire Protection Association recommends a response time of 5 minutes or less.