Fort Wayne Fire Department plans to have firefighters with advanced life-saving training on each fire engine

The Fort Wayne Fire Department plans to increase the number of firefighters with advanced life-saving training so crews can provide life-saving help as soon as they arrive at emergencies. ( file photo)

The Fort Wayne Fire Department plans to be even more effective when responding to emergencies.

By July, the department hopes to have nearly 80 firefighters trained in advanced life support on the crews of 18 of its fire engines, Chief Eric Lahey said Tuesday. That would allow the department to have firefighters trained in advanced lifesaving on every fire engine every day so they can start lifesaving care as soon as they arrive at an emergency situation.

Lahey and Mayor Tom Henry talked about the fire department’s work to keep people safe during a news conference outside the mayor’s office in Citizens Square, 200 E. Berry St.

The fire department currently has six engines operating with an advanced emergency medical technician (EMT) or paramedic on the crew.

Fifty-eight firefighters are trained in advanced life support, are awaiting their certification paperwork or will be trained by July, Lahey said. The department’s new recruit class of 21 candidates, which begins in March, also will go through advanced life-support training, boosting the department total to 79 firefighters with advanced lifesaving skills.

Here are some other highlights from Lahey:

• In 2017, the fire department added three new fire engines and ordered two new ladder trucks. The engines are in service now, Lahey said, and the ladder trucks likely will be in use by early spring. The ladder trucks will be located at Station No. 1 downtown on Main Street and at Station No. 17 on Getz Road.

• This year, the department will order two more fire engines and a special operations truck for its technical rescue team. The tech rescue team has been using a former soft drink delivery truck that is more than 30 years old and is becoming unreliable, Lahey said.

The tech rescue team works to save people in situations such as a building or trench collapse and people stuck hanging on the side of a building or down in a ravine, he said.

• The fire department plans to install LED light bulbs in building and parking lot lights at six of its newer fire stations. The change to LED will save an estimated $14,000 in electrical costs, Lahey said, and the savings can be used to buy department equipment or for other needs.

Newer fire stations are larger and have larger parking lots with more exterior lighting, so switching to LED lights at those stations will produce the most energy savings, he said.

In addition, the department gradually is switching to hybrid vehicles when replacing vehicles used by its fire code enforcement inspectors, Lahey said. The four hybrids currently in use by fire code staff have been getting about 46 miles per gallon of gasoline during city driving.

• Firefighters responded to more than 20,000 emergency calls during 2017, including about 9,000 in conjunction with emergency medical responders.

• Firefighters completed a combined total of more than 90,000 hours of training while keeping the city protected and arriving at most emergency calls within a few minutes, Lahey said.

• The department’s fire code enforcement division completed more than 7,000 inspections and re-inspections during 2017, a 60 percent increase made possible by increased staffing in that division.