CHICO, Calif. - As part of reorganization within the Chico Fire Department, Station 1 will now assign a pair of firefighters to a "retooled" pickup truck that will primarily respond to medical calls in the downtown area.
The truck and crew assigned to it are called the Fast Response Squad, and they'll be available to cover holes at other stations as the need arises.
Under current protocol, stations send an engine or ladder truck to all medical calls, which account for more than 90 percent of the calls they see in a given year.
With the new configuration at Station 1, only two firefighters will be sent to a medical call in their coverage area, freeing up their ladder truck.
"What the main premise is, is that we'll be able to keep the (ladder) truck here for secondary calls throughout the district or also to mainly respond to its primary mission which is fire and rescue missions," division chief Bill Hack said.
Hack says the "retooled" pickup truck is cheaper to run than the ladder truck. It will also be available to fill holes created when other stations are sent on calls.
It's rigged with GPS so the dispatch center can keep tabs on its whereabouts and send it to areas that are in need of coverage.
The move is one of many being made after the Chico Fire Department was awarded a $5.3 million Safety for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response, or SAFER, grant from FEMA.
They've been able to use the money to hire 14 more firefighters, giving them the staff to create the Fast Response Squad.
Hack says Station 1 will also soon be receiving a brand new ladder truck, replacing their current unit which has been in operation for 12 years. Typically trucks are to be phased out after 10 years.
The old truck will remain in the fleet as backup, if the need arises.