The Encinitas Fire Department will soon be equipped with a fire engine aimed at helping firefighters get to emergency situations faster in the city’s northwestern area.
The city council voted unanimously on Nov. 15 to approve a year-long pilot program for the “Type-6” vehicle to serve the North Leucadia/Saxony Canyon area.
The truck would provide emergency medical services and firefighting capabilities during peak incident times from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., according to a city staff report. It would be staffed with one fire captain and one firefighter/paramedic working overtime.
According to city staff, it has taken the fire department longer to respond to incidents in the northwestern portion of the city than other areas served. Most of the calls there are medical related, said Encinitas Fire Chief Mike Stein.
“The chances of survival decrease 7 to 10 percent with every minute that goes by,” said Encinitas Fire Chief Mike Stein.
In 2011, the fire department also informed the city that response times in Olivenhain were also low, which prompted the opening of Fire Station No. 6 at 770 Rancho Santa Fe Road. But, so far, no improvements have been made to increase the response time in the North Leucadia/Saxony Canyon area.
The fire department considered a variety of options to improve the time, including moving one ambulance from Cardiff to Leucadia, adding an additional American Medical Response ambulance in Leucadia, co-staffing an additional City of Carlsbad ambulance and adding a fire department fast response vehicle (FRV) in the North Leucadia/Saxony Canyon area, according to city staff.
Ultimately, the department recommended the FRV to respond to a variety of calls, rather than just medical aid calls. It is also a smaller, lighter, faster and more agile truck than other engines, according to the fire department. It also has better fuel economy and cleaner emissions, the fire department said.
The pilot program would cost $345,150 in fiscal year 2018/19 and have on-going costs of about $564,100 beginning in fiscal year 2019/20.
Council member Mark Muir, a former fire chief, suggested the Encinitas Fire Department should also talk to the city of Carlsbad to see about a joint station to cut costs. He also said the fire department should see about purchasing a truck from the county, like it did for the additional apparatus in Olivenhain.
The department will begin using the truck within eight to 12 months to allow for build-out time for the new apparatus, as well as a site location for the truck and site preparations, including permits.