JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Right now, when JFRD responds to an emergency, it automatically sends a fire engine and an ambulance.
"For a heart attack, that's great," said Fire Chief Marty Senterfitt. "For a cut hand, that's probably overdoing it."
So in a effort to increase efficiency, Senterfitt is considering changing the way JFRD responds to emergencies. He says at least 80 percent of its calls are for medical emergencies, so why send a fire engine and its crew when the crew of an ambulance can handle it alone?
"We have priority dispatching," he said. "Depending on the severity of the call, we'll send the appropriate number of people."
While it sounds like a logical idea, some firefighters aren't too fired up about it. They worry they'll be spread too thin. The union is concerned firefighters will end up making more trips to the hospital than answering calls in their area.
Mark Treglio, Vice President of the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters, said, "The city wants to take a four-man engine company that's on the outerlying areas of town, put an extra rescue truck there for transport. And then from there, have two people off engine transports at a hospital, leaving only two people left to serve the district while rescue is out of the district."
Action News asked Senterfitt, "How do you respond to that?" He replied, "We're going to the same number of calls, with the same number of people. "
JFRD says this is one of several plans on the table, designed to make the most of its resources. But the union says it can't fully support the idea until it knows more about it.
Treglio said, "I think the plan needs to be thought through some more and reevaluated to make sure it works for everybody involved."
Senterfitt said, "At the end of the day, our first and foremost goal here in Fire Administration is, can we provide better service? If that answer is yes, then we're going to pursue it."
The two sides plan to sit down soon and discuss the plan. If it's approved, Chief Senterfitt says folks who live around Black Hammock Island are likely to see the changes first.