No problem with the crews, just problem with data

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Last year Yakima City Fire had a turnout time in just under three-minutes on average. Sounds quick, but it's nearly a minute more than their goal. The fire department wanted to respond by two-minutes flat. Official data said that only happened about half the time. It's a big drop off from what's happened in years past. The city told KIMA there's no problem with the crews. There's a problem with the data.

"When this data first came to the attention of the fire department, they were confused a little bit by what that data said based on their own actual experience," said Yakima City Community Relations Manager, Randy Beehler.

The fire department used a stop watch to record actual times. Using this method, they found they hit their goal. They think the problem lies with the dispatch system. It's as simple as someone not hitting a button to stop an elapsed response time.

"It's a matter of when the button is pressed to stop the jump time so they're trying to train both the firefighters themselves, but also dispatchers to accurately record the jump times so the data is sound," said Randy.

The Spillman dispatch system was put into place in 2011. At the start, it would randomly crash. Now that that's resolved, Yakima wants to re-train employees to use Spillman correctly.

"Getting those employees trained, making sure they know how to accomplish what they need to on Spillman is a big, big project," said Yakima Police Captain, Greg Copeland.

Despite the changes, Spillman was said to be mostly working as designed and that's to improve communication between dispatchers and first responders.