On Feb 10, at the city council meeting, Yucaipa Fire Chief Grant Malinowski gave the 2019 annual report.
The city of Yucaipa Fire Department and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) provides fire protection for the city of Yucaipa and the unincorporated county area of Oak Glen under contract with the county.
“I’m pretty excited to give the annual fire department report since I have just had my one year anniversary serving as fire chief for the department,” said Malinowski. “The Yucaipa Fire and Paramedic Department strives to provide the highest level of life safety services to the residents and visitors of the city of Yucaipa.
“I constantly look to improve the level of service we provide to meet the future needs of the city and to be a valued part of the community we serve. In 2019 we did see a marked increase in response times, this in correlation with an increase of calls for service. I am working diligently to reduce our response times back into the 4 to 5 minute range by seeking additional funding to increase staff.”
The organizational structure of the fire department is under City Manager Ray Casey who receives direction from the Yucaipa City Council. Jo Kent is Malinowski’s administrative assistant. The city has three fire stations with two shifts and each station has one relief shift. There is also one reserve company. Staffing changed from last year to this year as an additional night-time dispatcher was added to reduce call processing time to get to emergency calls quicker but the rest of the staffing has not changed.
“One thing I would like to convey, especially to the public, our Yucaipa Fire Department protects almost $5 billion in private property. Pretty impressive when you think about it especially when you start looking at ISO (insurance service office) ratings and dollar loss by zip code and we have a very good rating and very good record,” said Malinowski.
Relating to personnel and equipment of the Yucaipa Fire Department, there is one battalion chief, six captains, 1 captain paramedic, seven engineers, seven firefighter paramedics, 25 reserve firefighters, two dispatch communication operators, part-time administrative assistant. There are three fire stations. Station 1 is located on Bryant Street; Station 2 is located on Yucaipa Boulevard, Station 3 is located on Wildwood Canyon Road. There is one training center at City Hall, Chief Malinowski’s office is located at Station 3 and the administrative office is located at City Hall.
Regarding city wide responses Malinowski said, “We have become busier with a rise of about 2-3% a year … but last year we saw a pretty marked increase in responses to almost 5%. We were at almost 8300 calls per service and this correlated to of increased response times (6 minutes, 10 seconds).”
Calls included medical aids, structure fires, vehicle fires, ringing alarms, traffic collisions, investigations, other fires, no aid, false alarms, vegetation fires, cover rescue, public service assist, fire menace standby and hazardous material. The majority of the calls were for medical aids with 5,365 call in 2019. Calls for service increased by 376 calls in 2019, and respond times have increased to 42 seconds during 2019. Since the city assumed fire services in 1999 there were a little over 5000 calls where in 2019 it is close to 8300. In the last 10 years the calls have increased over 2000 calls a year for service. Malinowski stated that they were not expecting to decrease as with the growth of the city, the calls will increase.
Council member Dick Riddell asked, “Accidents on the freeway, where traffic is all jammed up, and the fire people have quite a time maneuvering through the traffic to respond to the problem, is that included in the response time?”
Malinowski answered, “Yes, and that definitely doesn’t help especially with the construction but we don’t have big delays as we will go around people and push our way through. It is a little factor but not a major factor.”
Council member Denise Allen asked, “Any idea why the calls have gone up by 5%? That is quite a large number actually.”
Malinowski answered, “It will be all speculation but I know on calls for service we are seeing more multi-family residents in single-family residents or units, more so than ever, so that is subjective but that is what we are seeing so it could be the density is higher without the parcel growth but we could look into it to quantify that but more people are calling 911 for sure.”
“Fire Station #1 on Bryant has one paramedic engine, a rescue UTV (utility transport vehicle), two Cal fire state engines with Captain Michael Watanabe and Captain Ralph Williams. They ran 2800 calls last year and 25% were out of area responses. That is very high,” said Malinowski.
He continued with, “Fire Station #2 (Crafton Hills) on Yucaipa Boulevard with Captain Allen “Skip” Miller and Captain Travis Paye has the Brush Engine which we replaced the service on the 4th of July and it has already seen a lot of action … and we also have one paramedic engine there. Crafton Hills ran 1900 calls and are about 17% of out of unit responses but that is still high with a lot of double ups.”
“Fire Station 3, where I’m at, has Captain Mark Walsh, Captain Tom Burrascano and Captain Josh Spaid. They are running 3500 calls a year and their numbers keep going up the most. Our Battalion is the busiest Battalion for Battalion 2 calls with 500, and these are not reflected in our call responses. We are only counting calls for service with the engines. The Battalion Chief calls aren’t counted in that. We are the busiest Battalion in the Cal Fire San Bernardino Unit and actually the busiest for calls for Battalion Chief for this last year,” said Malinowski.
Yucaipa Fire Department has entered into automatic or mutual aid agreements to assist other departments in times of significant events for a better level of service for the public. Yucaipa has automatic aid agreements with Cal Fire San Bernardino Unit, Cal Fire Riverside Unit/Riverside County, Highland Fire Depart (Cal Fire), Calimesa Fire Department, Redlands Fire Department, San Bernardino County Fire Department, and United States Forest Service - San Bernardino Forest.