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  • 22 Sep 2014

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City to unveil controversial Fire & Rescue equipment

Portland Fire & Rescue is scheduled to publicly unveil two new and controversial pieces of equipment Monday morning.

Both were authorized by the City Council to help balance the bureau's budget and better align its equipment with current calls for help.

But the Portland firefighters union says relying on the new equipment potentially compromised response times and public safety.

One piece of equipment is called a Quint, which is short for "quintuple combination pumper." It combines the functions of two different kinds of large fire fighting vehicles, a water-pumping engine and a ladder truck. The Quint has both water-pumping and ladder capabilities, and can be operated by one four-person crew instead of two.

The council authorized the purchase of two Quints in this year's budget to save money. One has already been stationed in Parkrose and the second one is destined for Kenton.

But Portland Firefighter Association President Alan Ferschweiler says two crews should always be immediately sent to fight a fire.

"Full-service emergency fire service consists of two teams of four highly trained firefighters, not one team of four. Residents in Kenton and Parkrose are seeing a reduction in service,” Ferschweiler says.

The one is a Rapid Response Vehicle (RRVs) which is designed to respond to non-critical medical calls, not fires. It is a specially-equipped SUV with a two-person crew.

According to bureau officials, it is more economical to dispatch an RRV to the increasing number of medical calls throughout the city that a fire engine. But Ferschweiler says dispatchers do not always know whether a medical call is for a critical situation, like a heart attack, which requires a four-person crew for the best response.

A Quint and RRV will be shown to reporters at 10 a.m. on Aug. 26 at Station 2 in East Portland.