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Fire department proposes less use of lights, sirens for safety

By Brian Cuaron
June 21, 2011 at 1:21 a.m.


PARK LAND DESIGNATEDThe city council unanimously designated land for the Lone Tree Community Park. The park would be 127.99 acres and increase the city's parkland by 18 percent, said Doug Cochran, director of parks and recreation.

The council also designated 31.56 of those acres as a natural area. Only nature trails will be built there.

Victoria residents may soon see fewer fire engines racing down city streets.

Victoria Fire Chief Taner Drake proposed - during budget requests - a new dispatching system to the City Council on Tuesday. It would place a priority on each call requesting the department's services.

Firefighters respond to all calls with lights/sirens under current policy, Drake said. Using lights/sirens put firefighters and residents in danger, he added.

Under the priority dispatch system, firefighters would only turn their lights/sirens on for the more urgent calls.

This new system would go into effect after the dispatch software that 911 operators use is updated in the middle of August, Drake said. It will increase safety, as well as reduce the wear and tear on vehicles, he added.

Taner also told the council that the fire department has a shortage of ambulances. It doesn't have a system for using its two reserve ambulances.

He proposed a flexing system: Firefighters using a fire engine would operate the reserved ambulance in their station when needed.

Should a fire break out in that station's area, a fire engine from another station would respond to that call.

The department also has a fire engine shortage. One engine will get its transmission changed in two weeks, and Fire Engine 11 had its engine blow out about a week ago, Taner said.

Both were reserve trucks and Engine 11 was due to be replaced this year, Taner said. Its replacement was on his budget proposal for next year for $501,000.

The department has rented a fire engine since last Friday at about $110 per day.

Jerry James, director of environmental services, also gave his budget proposal. He said it would cost $357,260 to implement the household hazardous waste program next year.

He is negotiating the program's contract with Waste Management. James said he would bring contract to the council after meeting with Waste Management in July.

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