LEON VALLEY - City Manager Manny Longoria feels the standard of having six firefighters on duty within the Leon Valley Fire Department is enough.
The department's operations manual says the LVFD "normally operates with a six-member shift minimum."
There were six on duty July 5 when a fire was reported at the Forest Oaks Apartments at 6313 Evers Road.
The lone dispatcher on duty also received a report of a woman burned at the scene.
Thirty-one year old Chanelle Reyes died from her injuries.
LVFD did not send its own ambulance to the scene because, according to Chief Luis Valdez, there were not enough firefighters to safely operate the department's truck, engine and ambulance.
The Defenders questioned why private EMS company, Acadian, was not called immediately once the decision was made that LVFD could not dispatch its own ambulance.
LVFD has a mutual aid agreement with the city of Leon Valley.
"I think as soon as the officer got on scene he called for an ambulance right away," said Longoria.
A firefighter on duty requested Acadian.
Nine minutes later the dispatcher on duty can be heard saying "calling them now."
"There was a lot of activity that was going on. The dispatcher was calling all of our mutual aid partners," Longoria said. "Overall, it was a good response by our Fire Department."
Longoria says the standard of six firefighters is an "appropriate staffing level for the firehouse" and "typically the one dispatcher is sufficient to handle the traffic that occurred."
He adds that three alarm fires are rare in Leon Valley.
LVFD requested help from Helotes, Balcones Heights and Castle Hills to fight the fire.
Acadian rushed two ambulances to the scene and says it received a call from Leon Valley at 1:18 a.m. and was on scene by 1:33 a.m. The city of Shavano Park also dispatched an ambulance.
"We fully intend to have a debriefing and make this a learning experience for us in terms of how we can do better," said Longoria. "There's no question about that. And we'll look at our procedures."
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