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Chief Swinhart Explains Response Times

Key Peninsula Fire Department Response Times

Good morning, Key Peninsula citizens! We hope everyone is enjoying a solid return to Fall, with the much-needed moisture and decrease in our fire danger status. Outdoor burning is once again allowed by the county fire marshal. Please check their website for more information, and don’t forget to call our headquarters station in Key Center, (253) 884-2222, if you need a burn permit. In our continuing effort to make sure our KP community understands how their fire department works, I wanted to spend this blog post discussing response times. What are response times, and why are they important? How does your KP Fire Department stand up against state and national response time standards?

The data related to our fire and medical responses is very advanced these days. All are maintained in computer databases and can easily be retrieved by the click of a computer mouse. This is an incredible advance from the days when I first start in this profession in the 1980s when such data was difficult to retrieve, often inaccurate, and written down with pen on paper. An analysis of our data shows that your KP Fire Department arrives on scene of medical emergencies in an average of 8 minutes and 48 seconds. On fire calls we are on scene in an average of 10 minutes and 54 seconds. Of course, being averages, sometimes we arrive sooner or later. These are the averages since January of 2021. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says that ideal response times for medical calls is within 8 minutes 90% of time and 14 minutes 80% of the time for fire calls. Washington State also codifies minimum response times for medical emergencies in state law. WAC 246-976-390 says that fire departments must provide ambulance response within 20 minutes 80% of the time for suburban locations and 45 minutes 80% of the time for rural responses. The Key Peninsula is categorized by county and state authorities as a rural response. So, what this data shows is that your KPFD is just slightly above the ideal medical response time set by the NFPA and well within response times set by state law, even if the KP was considered a suburban area.

While we will always strive to improve our response times, the KP is challenged by our remote location and the limited staffing that all rural fire departments face. I hope this blog post has been informative for our citizens. As always, we want to make sure our community understands how their fire department operates and deploys. Please let us know if you have any questions.

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