About the Department
The Berkeley Fire Department is a member of the MABAS System. The Mutual Aid Box Alarm System was designed to provide equipment and manpower for large-scale emergencies. NORCOMM is the Dispatch Center responsible for the coordination of these efforts. The Berkeley Fire Department belongs to MABAS Division 20. As part of a group of 17 Fire Departments who share resources for emergencies, Division 20 has multiple specialty teams that can respond to many different types of emergencies. Some of these emergencies include the Fire Investigation Unit, the Hazardous Materials Team, the Photo Unit, the Technical Rescue Team, Safety Officers, and the Dive Rescue Team.
Fire Department Services Medical Services
On August 21, 2012, after a year of publically held meetings and lengthy discussions, the Village Board adopted a Fire Department Staffing Plan that created a 24-hour Fire Department and improved the level of care provided by the Fire Department. This plan was funded within the current budget and through an increase in ambulance fees. The plan was completed in two phases and was fully implemented by January 14, 2013. These improvements to the Fire Department services represented the most significant improvement in public safety services since 9-1-1 was brought to the Village in 1993.
Under the Plan, the standard of care for emergency medical services was changed from Basic Life Support (BLS) to Advance Life Support (ALS) services. ALS services enable paramedics to administer medicine and utilize advanced medical instruments/supplies during life-threatening emergency calls. This means, during an emergency call, paramedics are able to immediately perform life saving measures prior to the patient arriving at the hospital for further treatment. Utilizing ALS service enables emergency responders to take advantage of the most advanced treatment available during an emergency call to try to save a life.
The Village implemented the first phase of the Fire Department Staffing Plan which provided 24-hour coverage at the Fire Station on September 1, 2012. Prior to that time, the Berkeley Fire Station was not staffed on nights and weekends. During those times, the Paid-on-Call members of the Fire Department would respond from their homes to the Fire Station and onto the call. Beginning September 1st, part-time shifts were created on nights and weekends and were filled by existing and newly hired staff.
On Thursday, January 10, 2013, the Village held an ALS Open House to explain the enhancements in the Fire Department to the public. Amongst other speakers, the Open House featured Dr. Mark Cichon, Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Loyola University Medical Center, who stressed the importance of receiving pre-hospital care while on the ambulance.
Following the implementation of the Fire Department Staffing Plan, the Village Board created the ALS Ad Hoc Committee to review revenue and services levels and recommend changes to the Village Board.