2008 proved busiest year ever for Manhattan fire department

by Carley Dryden
Published January 15, 2009

Manhattan Beach Fire Chief Scott Ferguson’s first year in town was the department’s busiest year in the city’s 86-year history.
His department responded to 3,158 emergency calls in 2008, or 8.7 calls a day, a 6.3 percent increase over 2007.
“For a four square mile city that’s quite a bit of activity,” said Battalion Chief Ken Shuck.
The majority of calls were for emergency medical service (EMS). Paramedics responded to 2,160 calls. The department’s average response time was four minutes, 30 seconds.
Last year also saw an increase in mutual aid responses, Shuck said. Because structure, or first alarm fires require 16 to 20 firefighters, and Manhattan has only nine on a shift, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach and El Segundo are called in to help with all first alarm fires.
The department responded to 46 building fires last year, down from 58 in 2007.
Firefighters provided Automatic/Mutual Aid to other communities 196 times last year. Nine of those responses were to last fall’s wild fires in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and Orange County.
The department fought a of 124 fires last year, versus 126 in 2007. Fire damage was down in 2008, with losses totaling $251,247. Shuck said the department saved over $200 million in contents and property from fire damage.
Under Chief Ferguson’s leadership, the department updated its mission statement and has a new organizational motto, “A Tradition Forged by Fire; Strengthened by Change.”
For the past 12 months, the department has been working on a staffing study, authorized by City Council. The completed study will be presented to the council within 90 days, Shuck said.