Why does this matter in Greensboro?
NFPA Code 1710-Standard for Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations, and Special Operations to the Public by Career Fire Departments- involves staffing of career fire departments. In this code, the NFPA has used scientific evidence, past history and first hand experience to establish the minimum number of personnel required to safely and effectively operate on a fire scene. NFPA 1710 guidelines say that a first arriving company must consist of 4 fire fighters and arrive within 4 minutes of the initial 911 call. For an initial full alarm assignment (any structure fire) minimum personnel on scene should consist of 15-17 fire fighters arriving on scene within 8 minutes of the initial 911 call.
Currently the Greensboro Fire Department is not compliant with NFPA 1710. Three personnel are consistently assigned to Quint companies.
International City Managers Association (ICMA) Study
Understaffing of fire departments is a nationwide problem. So much so in fact, that the ICMA has conducted studies to determine the effectiveness of fire companies based on staffing. This information was published Managing Fire Services, 2nd edition. This international organization of city leaders recognizes the importance of a properly staffed fire department. This publication included this information:
1. Fire suppression operations have three basic functions: (1) rescue; (2) work involving ladder, forcible entry, and ventilation; and (3) the application of water. To raise ladders, ventilate, search, and rescue simultaneously takes quick action by at least four and often eight or more firefighters, each under the supervision of an officer.
2. If about sixteen trained firefighters are not operating at the scene of a working fire within the critical time period, then dollar loss and injuries are significantly increased as is fire spread.
3. As firefighting tactics were conducted and judged for effectiveness;
5 -person companies were 100% effective.
4 -person companies were 65% effective.
3 -person companies were 38% effective.