OPERATIONS: Deputy Chief Al Church


In 2000, Federal Way firefighters responded to 9,471 emergency incidents, an increase of 6.7% over 1999 alarm totals. Responses for 2000 are further broken down as follows:

Fire and other types of responses: 2,278 24.1%

Emergency Medical Service Responses: 7,193 75.9%

Total Federal Way Fire Responses: 9,471 100%

The Federal Way Fire Department provides fire and emergency medical services to the City of Federal Way, parts of unincorporated King County, and parts of the City of Des Moines via a contract for services. The response area is approximately 34 square miles and encompasses more than 100,000 citizens.

Firefighter-EMTs from six stations handle fires, trauma and medical emergencies, hazardous materials emergencies, rescue situations, and other service-related responses to assist our community when in need.

Six engines, a ladder truck and an aid car are staffed 24 hours a day. The department also provides hazardous materials response technicians to surrounding departments via a contractual arrangement which reimburses the Federal Way Fire Department for all costs associated with providing the assistance.The average response time for emergency crews in 2000 was approximately 5 minutes and 33 seconds. The response time calculated by the Federal Way Fire Department includes dispatch processing time, crew reaction time and actual travel time until our emergency crews arrive at the scene of the emergency.

Operations personnel work in 24-hour shifts, providing service to the Federal Way community. A total of 86 personnel are assigned as follows for each of the three shifts (A, B and C):

1 - Battalion Chief

2 - Captains

4 - Lieutenants

22 - Firefighters, (21, A-shift)

Several volunteers also assist at the scene of major emergencies by filling air bottles and providing other assistance to career personnel.
Highlights of 2000
Three New Firefighters Hired

In April, three new firefighters joined the ranks to replace recently retired firefighters. This allows the department to continue toward our strategic plan goal of three firefighters on every engine company.
Firefighters Go Back to Kindergarten

As part of a re-designed school program, crews at every station were partnered with an elementary school in their area to teach kindergarteners fire safety basics. Their efforts were well-received by both students and teachers.
Recognition of Excellence Committee (REC) Active

Several individuals received recognition awards in 2000, ranging from Letters of Commendation to the prestigious Meritorious Unit award. The REC was formed in 1999 to provide a means to recognize firefighters and citizens who perform service to the community, or perform heroic acts at emergency scenes.

Fire Department Honor Guard FormedThe Federal Way Fire Department Honor Guard made their first appearance at the 2000 Awards Banquet. Members of this group include Lt. Aaron Weeks, Lt. Dave Michaels, and Firefighters Ed Rickert, Barry Hassell, Joel Bergfalk and Wendy Chinn.

2000 STATISTICS: Joyce Harms, Public Education Officer

Number of Calls in 2000

EMS 7,193 (+ 4.7% from 1999)

Fire/Non-EMS 2,278 (+13.4% from 1999)

Total 9,471 (+ 6.7% from 1999)

EMS Responses (7,193)

Of a total of 7,193 EMS responses, 615 involved no patients. This number includes 25% of all motor vehicle incidents to which the department responded.

Of the remaining 6,578 calls with at least one patient, the totals are broken down as follows:

Medical/Illness Responses: 3,586 (54.5%)

Trauma/Other: 2,992 (45.5%)

Number of
Incidents Mechanism Code

417 (11.6%) 221-Respiratory Difficulty

315 ( 8.8%) 299-Other Illness

252 ( 6.7%) 241-Abdominal Pain

238 ( 6.6%) 231-Seizure

189 ( 6.5%) 232-Syncope

180 ( 7.8%) 281-Non-Cardiac Chest Pain

157 ( 4.4%) 234-CVA/Stroke

142 ( 4.0%) 212-Suspected MI

114 ( 3.2%) 249-Other Abdominal

107 ( 3.0%) 284-Fever/Infection

2244 (62.6%) All other medical/illness calls

As in 1999, “respiratory difficulty” and “other illness” were the leading reasons patients called 9-1-1. With some changes in rank, the other leading causes remained the same except for “other abdominal” which was new on the top ten list (replacing “other cardiac” in the 1999 list)

For Medical-Illness calls, the 10 most frequent reasons for response to patients were as follows:

When medical calls are considered by group (type of illness) rather than individual call, the most common reasons patients called for aid were:

As in past years, “other illness” and “neurological” were the leading categories of response. In 2000, however, the number of respiratory calls surpassed the number of cardiovascular incidents. The number of respiratory calls has increased rapidly, from 388 in 1997 to 585 in 2000, an increase of 50.8%.

Number of
Incidents Response Category

796 (22.2%) Other Illness

Includes non-cardiac chest pain, undefined musculo-skeletal pain, fever/infection, heat illness, exhaustion, hypothermia, frostbite, post-operative complication, cancer, hepatic problem, bleeding problem, and “other illness.”

766 (21.4%) Neurological

Includes seizure, syncope, headache, CVA/TIA, coma unknown cause, decreased level of consciousness, neuromuscular symptoms, and other neurological.

585 (16.3%) Respiratory

Includes shortness of breath, choking/aspiration, inhalation (gas, smoke, etc.), respiratory arrest, respiratory depression, asthma, emphysema/COPD, hyperventilation, and other respiratory.

574 (16.0%) Cardiovascular

Includes hypotension/shock, suspected MI, angina, CHF, hypertension, arrhythmia not arrest, cardiac arrest due to presumed heart disease, cardiac arrest due to other causes, and other cardiac.

865 (24.1%) All other medical/illness response categories

Number of
Incidents Mechanism Code

705 (23.6%) FA -Fall

606 (20.3%) MV-Motor Vehicle
364 (12.2%) XX-Other alarm

298 (10.0%) AL-Alcohol/Drug

221 ( 7.4%) AS-Assault

172 ( 5.7%) AC-Other accident/injury

166 ( 5.5%) PS-Psychiatric

108 ( 3.6%) SP-Sports Injury

73 ( 2.4%) KN -Sharp Instrument

63 ( 2.1%) OB-Obstetric

216 ( 7.2%) All Other

For Trauma calls, the 10 most common reasons for emergency response to patients were:

Non-Medical/Illness Codes

As in 1999, falls were the leading trauma response for patients. Overall, there were more responses to Motor Vehicle incidents (812), however, only 606 involved patients.

Due to a change in King County EMS coding during 2000, drug and alcohol responses were combined. This moved them into the position of fourth most common response (as compared to sixth and ninth when tracked separately in 1999).

Fire/Non-EMS Responses (2,278)

Calls within FWFD boundaries: 2,146 (+14.9%)

Mutual aid responses: 132 ( -7.6%)

Total 2,278
Fire/Non-EMS responses are categorized as follows:

As in past years, “false call” was the leading non-medical response. The number of false calls increased 26.5% over 1999, primarily due to a nearly three-fold increase in malicious or mischievous alarms which grew from 59 in 1999 to 143 in 2000.

The overall number of fires increased 20.8% over 1999. For the first time, however, structure fires were not the leading type of fire response. The number of structure fires declined 13.4% from 1999, to a new low, despite a flurry of house fires in the last quarter of the year. Though the number of vehicle fires and refuse fires increased, it was brush/grass fires that escalated dramatically. The 124 brush/grass fires were a 113.8% increase from the 58 brush/grass fires in 1999.

Number of
Incidents Type and Number of Call

669 (31.2%) False Calls

293 System Malfunction

187 Unintentional

143 Malicious/Mischievous

46 Other False Calls

552 (25.7%) Fires

131 Vehicle Fire

125 Refuse Fire

124 Brush/Grass Fire

123 Structure Fire

49 Other Fire

282 (13.1%) Smoke/Odor Problem

229 (10.7%) Service Call

127 ( 5.9%) Code Green

123 ( 5.7%) Good Intent Call

81 ( 3.8%) Hazardous Condition

56 ( 2.6%) Illegal Outdoor Burn 27 ( 1.3%) Other Call

Of 123 structure fires:

102 (82.9%) were in residential structures

21 (17.1%) were in non-residential occupancies.

Single-family residences remained the greatest fire problem, with 64 of the residential fires. Multi-family complexes accounted for 38 residential fires.

Careless cooking remained the most common fire cause, with 30% of structure fires originating in the kitchen. For structure fires, the area of origin was as follows:

Kitchen 37 (30.1%)

Living Room 15 (12.2%)

Bedroom 8 (6.5%)

Exterior Wall 5 (4.1%)

Heating Equipment Area 4 (3.25%)

Bathroom 4 (3.25%)

Garage 4 (3.25%)

Chimney 4 (3.25%)

Exterior Roof Surface 3 (2.4%)

All other areas 39 (31.7%)

Structure Fire History

Since the department began keeping track, structure fires reached an all-time low in 2000, with 123 fires. This continues a distinct overall declining trend for the past seven years. Since 1994, there has been an average of 142 fires per year. From 1981-1993, there was an average of 179 fires. This represents a 20% overall decrease in structure fires over a 20-year period.
Note: Total structure fires for 1981 (142) are included in the averages, but do not appear on the chart.

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