AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — Aurora Fire Rescue is changing the way it responds to certain calls as part of a new effort to better use resources.

As of Wednesday, the department is now operating on a “tiered response approach,” allowing the department to dispatch units based on the severity of the incident they’re responding to.

Fire Chief Alec Oughton said it’s a major shift from the traditional response of sending the closest units with lights and sirens to most calls.

“There are calls where minutes matter, and there are calls where minutes don’t impact the outcome,” Oughton said. “So what we’ve done with this change in our response model is really adjust our response to better match the risk that’s associated with the call that’s coming in.”

Chief: More engines will be available for fires

On Wednesday, the first day under the new program, Oughton said the department saw a roughly 20% decline in large fire apparatus responding to medical calls. He said that ensures more fire engines are available in the event of a fire.

“The first step is we need to figure out what the fire department does not need to respond to emergently,” he said. “Freeing up some of these resources from the lower acuity calls may allow us to allocate more resources to the higher acuity calls.”

Oughton said high-acuity calls will still receive the same response as before, ensuring medical care is received as quickly as possible from the nearest available unit.

“That’s where minutes matter, and we want to make sure we assign the closest, most appropriate unit to that call,” he said.