“Engine 14,” Apparatus Engineer Chad Powell remarks as he shifts the rig into gear. “I like it so far!”
Engine 14’s crew, C shift, begins pulling out of a parking lot on Bridge Road. They just wrapped up their second emergency call of the day. It’s their first day in service from Dairy Drive on Madison’s far southeast side, a much-anticipated milestone for a neighborhood that’s been eager to receive faster EMS and fire service.
Depending on the location of an emergency, Station 14’s territory was previously covered by a combination of Station 5 on Cottage Grove Road, Station 13 on Town Center Drive, and Station 6 all the way on W. Badger Road.
Even in the best of circumstances, response times were not meeting the national standard of four minutes for medical emergencies and five minutes for fire-related calls. On average, it took at least twice that long for first-in crews to arrive on scene.
On December 27, 2018, at 10:17 a.m., it was Engine 14’s turn to step up to the plate. As the crew settled into the station, unpacking boxes and welcoming excited visitors and news media, the tone sounded. The familiar voice of "Bionic Betty" filled the station and apparatus bay.
"Engine 14. Fire incident. 2605 Daniels Street."
The firefighters emerged from their respective corners of the building, and onlookers raised their cell phones in the air to capture the historic moment: Engine 14's very first call.
Suited up, Engine 14 rolled out the door. That's when a two-tone blast came over the air.
"Attention Ladder 8, Ladder 6, Engine 5, Engine 10, Medic 5, Car 31 with Engine 14 on their first run to UPS Freight," announced Dane County Public Safety Communications dispatcher Frank Washa. "[This call] will now be a ‘delta’ level structure fire response. A report of lithium batteries that were smoking – a crate of them.”
Lieutenant Chris Carbon reads the latest updates on the Mobile Data Computer and flips over to a map of the territory, advising AE Powell as they navigate the new terrain.
In less than three minutes, well under the five-minute standard, Engine 14 is on scene and taking command.
Upon entering the facility, the crew learns that a quick-thinking employee took a fire extinguisher to the smoldering batteries. A thermal imaging camera confirms there's no heat, smoke, or flames remaining, and there's no further threat of fire.
After three minutes on scene, and six minutes into the incident, Engine 14 advises other crews the situation is under control; they can return to service.
The next nearest rig is still a half-mile away.
Each territory has unique qualities and characteristics which, in turn, require fire and EMS personnel to adapt their services to best suit the neighborhood.
Madison’s southeast side presents a mix of residential and industrial properties, some which require additional hazardous material awareness and other specialized skills. Station 14's proximity to major thoroughfares like the Beltline highway, the Interstate, and Stoughton Road also means a higher likelihood of responding to traffic incidents.
Until Station 14 houses an ambulance, there is still a significant need for advanced life support (ALS) EMS care in the area. That’s why Engine 14 is the Madison Fire Department’s first ALS Engine, staffed with one designated paramedic each day. This paramedic is licensed and authorized to administer the same medications and provide the same level of emergency medical care patients would receive from an ambulance. Once an ambulance does arrive, the patient can be transported to the hospital.
Making A Difference
Engine 14’s relevance was proven on its very first call, but each day it continues to demonstrate that it's a critical asset to the neighborhood and the city at large.
On January 8, a garage fire on Dempsey Road, fueled by high winds, quickly spread to a nearby house and multiple parked vehicles. Engine 5 would normally be right around the bend, but because they were caring for a pulseless, non-breathing patient at the time, they were unavailable to respond to the fire.
With increased staffing on the east side, Station 14 was able to provide a greater depth of coverage in the area which allowed MFD to rapidly place more firefighters on scene. Had Engine 14 not been in service that day, Engine 10 (responding from the north side) would have been sent to the call, impacting response times accordingly.
In the two weeks since it went into service, Engine 14 has been dispatched to nearly 50 fire and EMS calls.
Grand Opening Celebration To Come!
Step Inside Station 14
Here are some other highlights from Station 14’s first day in service!
Station 14 is the first in Madison to utilize four-fold doors on the apparatus bay. These doors open and close in under 5 seconds, helping us get out the door sooner while also maintaining energy efficiency within the fire station.
Ride along with Engine 14's crew on their very first call!
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