The Research Bureau is pleased to present its latest report To Protect Lives and Property: The Role of the Worcester Fire Department in Emergency Medical Services. The job of a firefighter has changed dramatically since the Worcester Fire Department (WFD) was established in 1835. In 2015, 5% of WFD activities were to fires while an additional 17% were to false alarms or “good intent” calls. Improved building codes, fire prevention efforts, and resident awareness has resulted in a significant decline in structural fires and fire-related loss of life. Instead, 71% of WFD activities were emergency medical service (EMS) calls – health emergencies in which WFD acts as “first responder” attending on behalf of or in addition to trained medical support.
Worcester’s fire department has an expanded mission. Staffing and equipment must reflect the full range of both fire and medical demands on the department, including the potential for municipal ambulance service. Worcester has a historic first responder system – it is time to ensure it responds to our modern demands.