Phoenix Fire response times are increasing due to lack of resources and population growth

PHOENIX – Phoenix Fire Department leaders are sounding the alarm over a lack of resources, resulting in an 80% increase in call response times as the valley’s population continues to grow.

Over the past 10 years, Phoenix Fire call response times have gone from about 5 minutes to almost 9 minutes.

“The fact that we are able to reach you quickly and efficiently is what allows us to be the most efficient in our work,” said captain PJ Dean. “And that’s currently inhibited by an incessant call volume and a lack of resources that we simply haven’t been able to add over the years to keep pace with our current growth.”

Dean said Phoenix Fire call volumes have increased 48% over the past decade. Resources only increased by 2%.

This 2% represents one new fire truck and 40 new firefighters.

“You can imagine the strain on your existing fire department infrastructure,” Dean said.

Dean is also the secretary of the United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association, one of the valley’s firefighter unions that strives to educate Phoenix residents about growing public safety concerns.

He added that if the city continues to grow at this rate, the population by 2030 will reach 2.1 million and call response times will increase to over 14.5 minutes.

According to a 2019 National Fire Protection Agency study, career fire departments had a ratio of approximately 1.5 to 1.8 firefighters per 1,000 population. In Phoenix, that ratio is 1 in 1,000.

Under budget, the Phoenix Fire Department would be short by about 700 firefighters.

The union specifically wants to see the city budget to add nearly 400 more firefighters by 2030.

The United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association is calling on the city and residents to make the department a priority in the upcoming 2023 general bond.

“In this process of obligation, there is strong public input and we strongly encourage all residents of Phoenix to participate in this process because it strongly impacts them,” Dean said.

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