The 34,000 residents in the MOFD service area are served by 19 firefighters per shift operating seven emergency units based in five stations. They respond to about 2,400 incidents per year, 1,600 of which are considered of the highest priority. Two emergency response units and five firefighters respond to each incident, on average.
About half of the 1,600 Code-3 incidents are in Orinda. Of the non-false alarm incidents, 88 percent are medical in nature, 1 percent are structure fires, 5 percent are other types of fire (brush fires, cooking fires, vehicle fires, etc.), and 6 percent are general assistance (mostly vehicle accidents without injuries).
The two main criteria involved with appropriate emergency response are (1) the skill sets available to handle the emergency and (2) rapid response to the incident. The Task Force did not have the means for assessing the first criteria and there have been no indications that anything but the highest skill levels exist within MOFD. The second criteria, response time, is an objective one and records are kept to measure this. The Task Force found that MOFD's response time record is not particularly good.
In 2006 MOFD created a report defining theDistrict's response time standards. This report set the standard at six minutes from the time the county dispatcher notified the District of the incident. Including an optimistic one-minute of dispatch time, the Task Force determined that the six-minute industry target is only achieved 40% of the time.
How this deficiency is addressed is problematic. The District has no more money to hire more firefighters but the fact that the vast majority of life threatening incidents are medical in nature, that MOFD has four times as many firefighters per capita as the rest of the county, and that the District's19 firefighters are concentrated into 5 stations may lead to a solution.