Denver Fire Department’s lack of automatic aid could delay responses

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DENVER -- The Denver Fire Department’s relationships with other fire departments could delay response times in outlying neighborhoods.

On Saturday, a wind-driven two-alarm town home fire near Quebec Street and East Florida Avenue displaced families from five homes.

Denver Fire said the first 911 call was received at 5:04 p.m. About seven minutes later, Denver firefighters were on scene.

It took fire crews five minutes, 36 seconds to drive the nearly 3 miles from a fire station at 300 S. Ivy St. to 1811 S. Quebec Way, according to fire department records.

“Unfortunately, we were 16 seconds over what our goal is, but they were still close to meeting that national standard,” said Denver Fire Capt. Greg Pixley.

But could that national standard have been met if Denver Fire officials requested assistance from the closest fire station to the town homes?

The old Cunningham Fire Station at 2250 S. Emporia St., now operated by South Metro Fire Protection District, is just a 1.6-mile drive from Saturday’s fire scene, compared to Denver’s 2.9-mile drive.

“That would sound like common sense to me ... The one closest should probably head over there first,” said Connie Herrera, who was displaced by Saturday’s fire.

Pixley said the Denver Fire Department does not enter into what’s called automatic aid agreements.

Those agreements allow fire agencies to cross jurisdictional lines to assist each other no matter the circumstances.

Denver has mutual aid agreements with neighboring agencies, but those agreements require a request for help. No request was sought on Saturday.

“We haven’t used the mutual aid agreement in Denver in a long time,” Pixley said. “We have a tremendous amount of resources to help us protect the city.”

South Metro said a secondary 911 call on a cellphone reached its dispatchers around the time Denver firefighters arrived on scene Saturday.

Shortly after that, South Metro said Denver advised “they have it handled.”

In defense to not using automatic aid, the Denver Fire Department said it knows its jurisdiction better than any other agency and has the capabilities to protect the entire city.

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