Phoenix Fire Department response times increasing due to lack of resources, population growth

Aug 15, 2022, 12:02 PM

(Facebook Photo/Phoenix Fire Department)...

(Facebook Photo/Phoenix Fire Department)

(Facebook Photo/Phoenix Fire Department)

PHOENIX – Phoenix Fire Department leaders are sounding the alarm over a lack of resources, which is leading to an 80% increase in call response times as the Valley’s population continues to boom.

Over the last 10 years, the Phoenix Fire’s call response times have gone from around 5 minutes to nearly 9 minutes.

“Us being able to get to you quickly and effectively is what leads to us being able to be the most effective at our job,” Capt. P.J. Dean said. “And that’s currently being inhibited by just a relentless call volume and lack of resources that we have just not been able to add over the years to keep pace with our current growth.”

Dean said Phoenix Fire call volumes have increased 48% in the past decade. Resources have only been upped 2%.

That 2% is one new fire engine and 40 new firefighters.

“You can imagine the strain that puts on your existing infrastructure of the fire department,” Dean said.

Dean is also secretary of the United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association, one of the Valley’s fire department unions that is working to educate Phoenix residents about the growing public safety concerns.

He added that if the city’s growth continues at this rate, the population by 2030 will reach 2.1 million and call response times will escalate to more than 14.5 minutes.

According to 2019 research from the National Fire Protection Agency, career fire departments saw a ratio of about 1.5-1.8 firefighters per 1,000 residents. In Phoenix, that ratio is 1 to 1,000.

Under the projected budget, the Phoenix Fire Department would be short by roughly 700 firefighters.

The union is specifically wanting to see the city to budget to add nearly 400 more fire fighters by 2030.

The United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association is calling on the city and residents to make the department a priority in the upcoming 2023 General Bond Obligation.

“In this bond process there’s a heavy amount of public input that goes into that and we would highly encourage all the residents of Phoenix to take part in this process because it does impact them heavily,” Dean said.

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Phoenix Fire Department response times increasing due to lack of resources, population growth