N.M. City Fire Department Renamed to Reflect Medical Services
May 25—It's not just fires.
Albuquerque's firefighters respond to a range of emergencies in addition to fire suppression that include medical emergencies, lost hikers, arroyo flash flood dangers, hazardous materials spills and car accidents in addition to fire prevention, arson investigation, special operations response and public education services.
And to reflect its increasingly diverse scope of duties, city officials on Thursday unveiled a new name for the city's 118-year old fire department—Albuquerque Fire Rescue.
During a news conference at Fire Station 2, the first station to display the new name on its building and apparatus, Mayor Tim Keller said the name change reflects the 106,000 calls Albuquerque firefighters responded to last year, with 93,000 of those medical emergencies.
"The reality is today's departments all over the country, especially here in Albuquerque, is that firefighters are doing much more than just fighting fires," Keller said. "Our firefighters have (emergency medical technician) and paramedic training, and it's that type of training that responds to wide range of emergencies—heart attacks, lost hikers, arroyo flash floods, hazardous spills and car wrecks—these are all things the fire department does."
Keller did not have a price tag on the cost of the name change on stationary, uniform patches, buildings and apparatus, but said the transition would take place steadily as old vehicles and equipment are replaced over several years.
The department's 2016 annual report showed that firefighters responded to 13,205 non-medical emergencies. The top 10 non-medical responses that year were: alarms 4,413; explosion (fireworks), 2,442; outside fire, 1,653; smoke outside, 684; citizen assist, 646; hazardous materials, 526; gas leak/odor, 444; vehicle fire, 408; and mutual aid, 396.
Firefighters in 2016 also responded to 15 aircraft emergencies, six confined space rescues, 14 suspicious package calls, 78 elevator rescues and seven water rescues.
Medical emergencies range from abdominal pain and animal bites to motor vehicle accidents and suicide attempts.
"The new title is more inclusive to who we are, what we do and how we want to be perceived," Fire Rescue Chief Paul Dow said. "The term rescue encompasses a number of disciplines that our firefighters train in. Saving lives and property is what we do."
An Internet search shows that several departments across the country have adopted the "fire rescue" brand over the last several years as the firefighting profession has changed, including Dallas, Fairfax County, Va., Sioux Falls, S.D., Portland, Ore., and Tampa.