TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — When you're suiting up to go into a burning building, the last thing you want to worry about is your equipment. Thanks to $5 million in federal grants, that’s one less problem for the Tucson Fire Department.
“When you have the best training, and you have the best equipment that gives us the best chance to help somebody in their time of need," said Barrett Baker, Battalion Chief at Tucson Fire Department. "And that really is important, to come to work everyday and feel supported.”
In 2020 alone, the department responded to 661 structure fires. That’s a sharp increase from years past and it pushed them to apply for the grants.
“We really need this and here’s an opportunity for us to get it without burdening the taxpayers,” said Chuck Ryan, Tucson Fire Chief.
Some of that money will bring in 13 new firefighters.
"We need to be able to give our people a break and so this will help with that. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start,” Ryan said.
Another portion of that money will go towards safety. The chief says he plans to replace the department’s worn-down air compressors they use to fill air packs.
“They are probably the most critical part of our personal protective ensemble,” Ryan said.
With more firefighters and better equipment, the chief says they can improve response times. The goal is to arrive in under six minutes for a medical call, and four minutes for a fire.
“We are over where we should be, we can do better," Ryan said. "Most of the time we’re getting there but not all of the time.”
And every minute counts for someone in need.
“Even saving a little bit really saves a lot for someone on the other end of it.”
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