The San Marcos Fire Department received $332,182 from the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program, this allowed the purchase of various medical equipment including heart monitors, respirators and other various life-saving devices for the San Marcos firefighter unit.
The department also received a grant from the city for six LifePak 15 monitors and six Lucas mechanical chest compression systems.
Assistant Chief Rick Rowell said that historically, the fire department’s duties are mostly medical.
“More than over 50 percent of our business is medical related,” Rowell said. “I don’t see that going down, in fact, I see that going up.”
Due to the medical focus of the fire department, San Marcos is looking to increase the number of firefighter-paramedics in the near future.
“We have a program where we send people that we already hired from the University of Texas Health and Science Center in San Antonio and they go through their paramedic certification program, which is a nine-month program,” Rowell said.
The Fire Department sends 3 firefighters to this program each year to increase the ratio of paramedics and firefighters. The Fire Department currently has 24 certified paramedics out of 74 and aims to get six more.
“The state of Texas requires firefighters to be E.M.T. basic. We have been requiring for the last few years paramedic certification for our applicants,” Rowell said. “When we get to the point where we have 30 [certified paramedics], then I’ll be able to make sure that I have 2 paramedics assigned to every one of our frontline units every day.”
In addition to the grant, October is known as Fire Prevention month, which started due to two major fires, The Great Chicago Fire and the Peshtigo Fire, both occurred during October. Fire Prevention Month was created to commemorate these tragic events and to educate locals on fire safety.
The San Marcos Fire Department celebrated a new fire engine added to fire state 4, the engine was delivered Friday, Oct. 27. The 32.5 foot 2017 Spartan Star Series All Aluminum Pumper cost $683,831 and was funded through the City’s 2015 Capital Improvements Plan. The engine is equipped with Metro Star LFD Cab.
As part of Fire Prevention month, The San Marcos Fire Department held an open house on Oct. 7 to welcome locals and introduce them to their local police officers, paramedics, and firefighters.
“It gives us an opportunity to spread a fire safety message and let people know who their firefighters, paramedics, police officers, and other helpers in the community are,” Rowell said.
Rowell advocated that the SMFD is ready and equipped for fire and medical emergencies, both east and west of IH-35.
-Michael Garcia is a journalism freshman