St. Pete Fire Dept. looking to improve response times after slip

Posted at 6:35 PM, Feb 24, 2017

When you call 9-1-1, you expect to get help immediately, but ABC Action News found out response times are slipping in St. Petersburg and it is taking firefighters, on average, more time to get to you.


Now, there's help on the way to speed up response times.


St Petersburg Fire Department just rolled out two new "rapid response" trucks. The paramedic trucks are packed with emergency equipment and firefighter gear. Unlike larger trucks, they can't be used to transport patients, but they can be dispatched within seconds to get help to you. 


The Fire Department plans to hire 10 paramedic firefighters to staff the new trucks. There are currently two on the road, and a third one may be added soon. 


In the past three years, paramedics have been extremely busy. Calls have spiked 17% in St Petersburg and because of that, it's taking firefighters on average 1 minute longer to make their way to you.


Lt. Steven Lawrence says the new "rapid response" vehicles will drastically reduce response time, particularly for medical calls.


That's welcoming news for Sean Ferguson, who watched in horror as his neighbor's house burned to the ground last September. 


His neighbor was trapped inside, but luckily, firefighters arrived to the home at 6564 18th Way N in time to save his neighbor from the growing flames. 


“I didn’t even have time to call before they were here,” Ferguson explained. “They definitely saved her life and I’m happy they came that fast for sure.”


Firefighters know in those moments, every second is crucial. Firefighters know when you need them, there isn't a minute to spare. 


St Petersburg Firefighters respond to an average 50,000 calls a year.


The department wants to hire the new paramedic firefighters immediately. If you know someone who is qualified for the job, they can email the department at