Fire Suppression/Emergency Medicine/Technical Rescue/Hazardous Materials
The Fire Rescue Section makes up the largest portion of the agency and remains the bread and butter of the fire service. Winter Park operates on a three-shift system with each working 24-hours on-duty followed by 48 hours off-duty. Each shift is comprised of 23 firefighters who respond from three fire stations. These stations are located strategically located throughout our city to help us provide the closest possible response to any reported incident.
Our firefighters operate three Engine Companies, One Truck Company, Two ALS transport Rescue Companies, EMS Supervisor, and Battalion Chief. All units are capable of delivering advanced life support medical care and our Rescue units transport an average of 1800 patients annually.
Based upon an extensive and ongoing assessment of the community’s risk hazards a formal Standard of Cover (SOC) for all emergency response activity has been adopted by the citizens of Winter Park. The SOC is accepted every five years by Resolution of the City Commission so that these very detailed, life-saving decisions can be made based on industry best practices and quantified anticipated outcomes and not on emotion. Every aspect of response is assessed and benchmarked against what are considered to be the industry’s highest performance measurements. The Quarterly SOC Compliance Report can be found by clicking here. Each baseline of current performance is measured against the industry benchmarks helping the city define specific goals and objectives for the agency.
For each individual program a performance statement is made. These measurement statements define the expected level of performance and outcome for each type of incident. The performance statements measure both the arrival of the first unit and the effective response force of firefighters assigned to a particular type of call.
Emergency Response Activity
Firefighting, while something we strive to reduce the frequency of each and every day, remains the foundation of our organization. Protecting the community from the ravages of uncontrolled fire is our top priority. Our firefighters are well-trained and well-equipped with the latest in tools and tactics to make strategically aggressive fire attacks with practices that help us rapidly control structure fires with the goal of holding these events to the areas of origin.
All pumper fire apparatus (Engine Companies) are equipped with a minimum of 750 gallons of on-board water and more than enough supply fire hose to reach any fire hydrant located within the city limits. Fire attack lines are specifically calculated to flow enough water to allow firefighters the ability to feel confident in their decision to be aggressive with their tactics. This ability to deliver higher water flows along with our closely coordinated ventilation skills allows our crews to safely search active fire buildings allowing any victims the greatest opportunity for survival.
Today’s modern building construction, while lighter in weight, affords in some cases less safety from fire spread. Homes and businesses today are loaded with highly combustible plastics within furniture and coverings. We feel this combination of an aggressive interior fire attack coupled with a coordinated ventilation of heat and smoke within the fire building has the ability to actually change the outcome of the fire.
To help achieve this highly effective firefighting capability Winter Park developed what is referred to as a full-service Truck Company operation. Staffed with a minimum of four firefighters operating in two teams, the Truck crews have the training and equipment to handle most fire ground situations. Equipped with an 70 gallon compressed air foam firefighting system, the Truck Company can initiate a fire attack should it arrive and find the need to perform fire extinguishing activities. The Truck also carries all of the equipment needed to perform vehicle extrications, technical rescues, fire scene overhaul, and salvage as well as elevated rescues. It is a highly capable unit.
Unique to Winter Park is that our Truck Companies use what in the industry are referred to as tractor drawn aerials or TDA for short. Winter Park’s urban street design requires vehicles of this size to be as nimble as possible. The fact that this rig steers from both ends makes it the most maneuverable type of vehicle of its kind. Changing to the TDA design has resulted in improved response times for this rig. This nimbleness allows firefighters to reach every location getting the equipment where it’s needed, faster. Both the city’s front-line and reserve Truck Company rigs are tractor-drawn aerials.
Fire scene safety is managed by the on-duty Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Supervisor. These Captains are trained as scene safety officers.
All Winter Park Fire Rescue units are staffed and equipped to provide advanced life support medical care. No matter the type of medical emergency the closest Fire Rescue unit will be dispatched; including enough personnel to effectively manage the reported condition. This is why you may see a fire truck responding to your request for medical care or for an ambulance. Winter Park Fire Rescue is the sole provider of emergency medical services within the city limits.
Fire Rescue staffs two transport capable Rescue ambulances. These units are some of the most technically advanced and leading edge designed ambulances built in industry. The units in use by Winter Park Fire Rescue include numerous unique safety features that were born right here and have found their way into today’s industry-best practices. Features such as the ergonomically designed attendant seating with five-point seatbelt restraints and the industry first, on-board vehicle decontamination system by AeroClave Inc. Each time a patient is transported our paramedics have the ability to completely decontaminate the patient compartment. The use of these unique systems work to make the work environment for our paramedics and patients the safest it can be.
Our emergency medical services are under the supervision of Dr. Todd Husty D.O. and his staff of emergency physicians who work to provide our paramedics with some of the most cutting-edge treatment protocols in the industry. Winter Park paramedics have the training, equipment, and most importantly the confidence to diagnose and treat most any condition. From cardiac arrest and trauma to the most basic of patient complaints, our personnel are uniquely qualified to bring every patient the best opportunity for a positive outcome. As an example, patients who experience a witnessed cardiac arrest in Winter Park have a 10-20% greater chance of survival than the national average. Our quick response time, aggressive protocols, equipment, and training all contribute to these results.
All of our patient information is confidential and protected by law under the “Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act” of 1996.
Winter Park has also led the nation in the discussion of ambulance safety. In 2005 the city worked with ambulance manufacturers, the National Institute of Standards and Testing (NIST) to look at the need for a new standard for ambulance design. The result was what was referred to as the Action Safe design which placed all occupants in available seating with five-point seat belts, and a secure location for all equipment within reach of the attendant. In 2015, the third edition of the design was placed into service with the newest of three ambulance Rescue units.
As an example of this new safety technology, these new ambulances are among the only transport rigs in the Country with on-board vehicle decontamination units. The AeroClave product brings the ability to decontaminate each ambulance each time a patient is transported. This complete cleansing of the vehicle’s patient care area reduces the risk of the transfer of disease from patient to patient, and from patient to paramedic. Our commitment to the design of a safer ambulance has set the bar for the industry and has been used to create new national standards (NFPA 1917).
Firefighters in Winter Park maintain what is referred to as a Light Technical Rescue Team (LTRT) capability. The LTRT is a small, local component of what is more commonly referred to as the Urban Search Rescue Team. The Winter Park LTRT has the capability to perform rescues of victims from what are considered difficult or “technical” situation. As an example, workers who become trapped in trenches or above ground at heights requiring the use of ropes and ladders to bring them to the ground. A technical rescue could also include the removal of a victim in a construction or building collapse.
Our local LTRT trained and equipped also serves as a Regional asset to for the State of Florida’s State Emergency Response Plan (SERP). Our assets could be requested to deploy to a rescue within the nine county Region surrounding Winter Park. Tools and training for the LTRT are provided through an annually supported State Homeland Security Grant managed by the State of Florida Department of Emergency Management.
In addition to the LTRT component, several Winter Park officers and firefighters are members of the larger Florida Task Force 4 Urban Search and Rescue Team. These individuals are part of a larger cache of highly trained and well equipped responders who are not only available to respond to a more large scale event throughout the State, they can also be deployed regionally through Florida’s interstate agreements. Training and equipment for the FLTF4 is also supported by the State of Florida though similar grant opportunities. Agencies from throughout our region provide personnel to staff the USAR team.
Winter Park firefighters are trained and equipped to deal with most of the more common responses such as gasoline spills and leaks involving natural and liquefied petroleum (LP) gasses. For any releases of large quantities of hazardous materials such as from a truck or railcar or which involve more complex chemicals, the city maintains a cooperative agreement with the City of Orlando Fire Department who will respond their team and work with us to resolve the matter.
Our firefighters regularly train with the members of the Orlando Fire Department’s Haz-Mat team and are familiar with their roles and responsibilities should a mutual aid response be warranted. Orlando Fire also provides Arson/Bomb services to the city for the examination and security of suspicious devices and packages.