A new report on emergency response times in Prince George's County found six stations have high failure-to-respond rates.
Prince George's County officials conducted a study to review whether its fire stations answered emergency calls within one minute. If not, the call was recorded as a missed call.
The following station were found to have alarming failure-to-respond rates:
- Riverdale Heights, 31.1 percent
- Capitol Heights, 30.2 percent
- Boulevard Heights, 22.1 percent
- Forestville, 11.9 percent
- Bowie, 8.1 percent
- West Lanham, 7.7 percent
The Chief of the Riverdale Heights Volunteer Fire Department, which is staffed entirely by volunteers after career firefighters were reassigned by a prior administration, told News4 they may not have answered every call within 60 seconds but did respond to the calls with emergency apparatus in a timely fashion.
“If you're going to look at staffing, which we are looking at, this year I think the county council increased our staffing complement for the fire service by almost 70 firefighters,” Prince George’s County Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Public Safety Barry Stanton said. “Also, we just got a Safer grant from Sen. (Barbara) Mikulski's office for 18 additional firefighters to add to the complement of the fire service."
The union that represents professional firefighters and paramedics said the chronic understaffing problem is finally being addressed.
“We've been working with the (Prince George’s County Executive Rushern) Baker administration over the last 18 months to work towards a long-term plan to improve our staffing, which will ultimately translate into improving the safety of our members and the safety of the citizens of the county,” Professional Firefighters Association President Andrew Pantelis said.
Prince George's is the largest county in Maryland, and its combination career and volunteer fire department is the biggest in the United States, officials said. The county hopes that with improved emergency response time, it will be considered one of the best.