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Metro Fire Departments Say ‘Closest Unit Response’ Shortened Response Times

URBANDALE, Iowa -- The Clive and Urbandale Fire Departments said the closest unit response program has shortened their response times after only being in place for a few months.

“I know that our response times have shortened for the last several months that we’ve been doing the closest unit response,” Clive Fire Department Assistant Chief Brian Helland said.

They put this program in place in October 2017 and what it does is dispatch the closest unit to each particular call.

“It doesn’t select the truck in that community, it takes the gps off of our vehicle and it will send the closest ambulance or closest fire truck to that incident it doesn’t matter whether it’s in clive or in urbandale we want to get the unit on scene as quickly as possible,” Urbandale Fire Department Lieutenant Derek Manser said.

Manser said closest unit response also evened out the workload between the three fire stations

“The other station in Urbandale is actually a very busy station and now we’ve noticed, since the change over, that that stations call volume has kind of dropped, our call volume at this station has picked up and the call volume at the Clive station has also picked up and so it’s kind of evened everything out across the three stations which is a positive thing,” Manser said.

Firefighters said most of the citizens appreciate a faster response, no matter what city name is on the side ambulance or fire truck thats sent out.

“I’m not sure that the citizens, at the time they call 911, I don’t think they care who responds to their emergency they just want somebody to respond to their emergency who’s well trained, well equipped and able to respond and they want them to be there as quickly as possible,” Helland said.

Clive and Urbandale are not the only ones switching over to this method.

“I think a lot of departments in the area and across the country are looking at doing responses like this. It makes sense. But as departments have grown and cities have grown, departments have evolved from being volunteer fire departments, to part time paid departments, to having people in the station 24 hours a day and as cities have grown, the response needs have changed over time,” Helland said

Both departments said this program works and plan to keep it this way so that citizens in both cities are getting a fast response when they are in need.