by Dennis B. Light, Chief, Prescott Fire Department
Have you ever been curious as to why you may see a City of Prescott fire engine in Prescott Valley? What about that time you were in downtown Prescott and saw that fire engine from Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority? How about those trying months during fire season when you see the green fire trucks of the U.S. Forest Service, the white fire trucks of Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management (DFFM) or the yellow fire trucks of Bureau of Land Management (BLM)?
It’s because of a very extensive automatic aid system in place for all-risk response in the Prescott Basin region. Regardless of jurisdictional boundaries, efforts are undertaken locally to ensure that the closest and best-suited piece of fire department equipment is dispatched to those in need. These needs are managed by way of the Prescott Regional Communications Center (PRCC). The PRCC is the public safety answering point of all E-911 calls that originate in Prescott, Prescott Valley, Groom Creek and much of the surrounding areas for which the City of Prescott Fire Department, Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority, U.S. Forest Service, DFFM or BLM have an obligation to respond.
When a person activates the E-911 system to summon help, a call taker at the PRCC is there to answer the call and dispatch the required help necessary for those in need. Upon answering, the caller is asked, “What is your emergency?” and will get the required elements responding.
Locally, we have a multitude of risks that our residents and those visiting our community may face. Through the application of automatic vehicle locators and a brief interrogation by the dispatcher answering the call, a determination is made in moments as to who and what to send. Naturally, to some degree, every emergency is different, so the number and quantity of resources very well could vary.
All-risk response is very comprehensive as to the type and complexity of the needs that need to be fulfilled.
A vehicle fire, in most cases, will require the response of a single fire engine, and a room and contents fire, for most homes, may require more. Then, if you add a wildfire component to that same house fire, it very well could have resources from all the region’s fire departments called in to battle the blaze.
Likewise, we use a regional approach when it comes to those nontraditional call types, such as technical rescue (confined space, high/low angle, structural collapse and water rescue), hazardous material response and aircraft rescue firefighting. We work to realize added efficiencies in the region by economy of scale, recognized by our sharing and partnerships cultivated in team responses.
One thing is for certain – the emergency responders are here to serve and do so with a smile. Take time to wave, and if we notice we will be sure to wave back, as – after all – this is “everyone’s hometown.”