Q. A Jacksonville Today reader Julie B. wants to know why firetrucks are sent to calls when there doesn’t seem to be a fire.
A. The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department says a firetruck arrives whenever an ambulance is called because all the people on a firetruck are trained EMTs or paramedics, so they can provide the same aid.
Capt. Eric Prosswimmer says first responders may not have all the information available when sent on a call. It’s better to have the extra resources on scene than it would be to need them and have to wait, he says.
“I think it’s for the best for the citizens of the city. And when you’re in an emergency situation, whether it be a car accident, whether you’re sick, whether you’re having a heart attack or your family member is having a heart attack, you want us there as fast as possible and able to do our job,” Prosswimmer says.
Sometimes a rescue unit may call off another responding vehicle, for example, if the responding unit is familiar with a person or location.
Duval County recorded more than 177,000 calls for service in 2023. Firetrucks would have been dispatched on all of them, but the department does not track how many times the trucks were called off.
Prosswimmer says the city doesn’t track how much it costs the city to respond to an emergency call, and there are many variables that would make calculating the cost difficult.