Mesa would like more fire stations, but money is tight. So the fire department, using the materials and manpower on hand, has found an effective stopgap measure.
A pair of trucks, manned by two firefighters, each handles noncritical situations in the city’s center during the busiest part of the day. By responding to sprained ankles, leaking hydrants and requests for help changing smoke detector batteries, these Transitional Response Vehicles mean full engine crews are available for more calls.
How many more? Before a TRV arrived in September at Station 202, 830 S. Stapley Drive, its engine was too busy to handle 42 percent of its calls. That meant a neighboring station had to pick up the slack, leading to slower response times.
Since then, it has been available for dispatch 69 percent of the time.
“It’s doing what we want it to do: It’s keeping (the engine) available more often,” Mesa fire Deputy Chief Mike Dunn said.
The other TRV is housed at Station 205, 730 S. Greenfield Road.
TRVs are staffed by a paramedic and an emergency medical technician, Dunn said. The vehicles themselves are old fire engines and carry water, but it is unusual for them to be involved in hazardous situations such as fires.
Last April, the city approved $1 million in funding for the TRVs after a pilot program run in the summer of 2006 was deemed successful.
“We still need five fire stations,” Dunn said. “This is to augment the system we have in place.”
Glendale is the only other Valley fire department to employ TRVs, but that city uses them as rolling internships and not as relief. The fire department has a partnership with Midwestern University, in which physicians and paramedics in training accompany engine crews to calls.
Tucson was the state’s first department to use TRVs, bringing them online more than three years ago, and they are employed as Mesa does. That city’s “Alpha Trucks” are dispersed one per battalion, or five stations, and they handle the smaller calls, Capt. Norm Carlton said.
UNIT DATES DISPATCHED ARRIVED CANCELED
TRV201 Aug. 1 to Sept. 16 316 280 36
360 E. First St.
TRV202 Sept. 17 to Dec. 31 449 387 62
830 S. Stapley Drive
TRV205 Sept. 17 to Dec. 31 450 396 54
730 S. Greenfield Road
TOTAL INCIDENTS 1,215 1,063 152
Source: Mesa Fire Department