This morning from 0500-0800, I am working as a firefighter on a three person Duty Crew shift out of Fire Station One. Eden Prairie Fire implemented the Duty Crew strategy just 26 days ago on October 1st. The idea is to provide a more consistent response time to emergency calls, while providing a more predictable work environment for our firefighters, who are essentially, citizen volunteers.
Eden Prairie Fire is one of the last departments, of our size, in Hennepin County to go to the Duty Crew concept. Because we weren’t an early adopter, we had a lot of folks to talk to and get ideas from. So far the transition has been relatively smooth all the way around.
The Fire Department has been planning for the Duty Crew implementation for nearly a year before it went live, but there are still things we are learning and adjusting to in these early days of actually running the program. One thing is for certain though, getting response vehicles out the door of the Fire Stations and on the way to the call has definitely improved. Looking over, late night and early morning, in service times and comparing September (before the Duty Crew) and October (with the Duty Crew) it appears the Duty Crews are 4-6 minutes faster getting out the door. In a lot of emergency situations, time is important and with the new program the Fire Department is faster.
Meanwhile, this morning, when I arrived to work a shift I have gotten a little first-hand taste of what this program is like. My shift leader, Lieutenant Hanink, went over the tasks we needed to accomplish on our shift. For today those were: Check the vehicles to make sure they were in a state of readiness (this is at every shift change), fill air bottles from last night’s training if needed, and mop up two of the station apparatus bays. I am working on a three person crew, so each of us took on a task and within short order we were all done. Now the wait is on for any calls that might arise. In the meantime, I am blogging, Lt. Hanink is working on her Blue Card certification and Firefighter Meuwissen is working on her laptop.