Tulsa Fire Department to spend thousands per day as a result of EMSA's expanded response times

TULSA - Tulsa Fire Chief Ray Driskell has told the Tulsa City Council that he will increase the number of crews on duty beginning midnight Friday morning.

The chief's decision comes one week after the council approved an extended response time for EMSA crews, from 8:59 to 10:59.

RELATED: Council votes to extend times (http://bit.ly/18hdwjs)

Driskell calls the move a precautionary measure, in order to make sure the fire department and EMSA are on the same page, as the new allowable response time also begins.

The change means five additional crews will be on duty for at least the next seven days while Driskell and others in charge determine if they are necessary as EMSA's new policy starts.

"We felt we've got to be a little bit more proactive and put these companies up and so that's why we picked five, to put 10 people on each shift, for at least seven days and see the impact," said Driskell.

The fire chief estimates the crews will cost between $7,000 and $9,000, per day. Those funds were set to come from the fire department's budget, however EMSA CEO Steve Williamson later told the council that his company would cover the fire department's cost.

The chief also addressed issues regarding code changes, which would add 91 emergencies to the number the firefighters are already responsible for handling.

The chief estimates this would increase the number of calls firefighters are called on by more than 14,000.

"That's why we raised the flag and said this can't occur," he said. "There's not been enough analysis."

Driskell told the council that the new codes will not be used for at least another six months while their impact is studied.

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