How long will it take firefighters to get to you?

How long will it take firefighters to get to you?
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Whenever a fire starts, it's a race against time. Every second it takes for firefighters to get there could make the difference for saving a home and saving lives. KIMA did the research to see how long it takes fire departments to reach your family here in the Yakima Valley.

"It could have easily went to my house," neighbor Roy Gordon said of a fire on his property.

Roy credits his safety to the men in uniform.

"As soon as I came outside, I heard sirens coming," said Roy. "So, they were right there."

East Valley firefighters were on scene in less than five minutes. Yakima crews were there minutes later for backup. It's a system fire departments are always working to improve.

We dug through the numbers and learned Union Gap has one of the quickest response times with 4 minutes and 45 seconds.

So far this year, Yakima averages less than 5 minutes and 30 seconds.

West Valley crews take longer at about 12 minutes and 15 seconds.

The numbers are hard to compare. For example, West Valley covers four times the area of Yakima and most of its firefighters are volunteers.

We took this story a step further and compared the numbers to the response times for Yakima County Fire District Five. The average there: 13 minutes and 45 seconds. It might seem like a long time, but the district covers nearly the entire lower valley.

A new fire station could help. Deputy Chief Allen Walker says this new building is a major step up from the old station down the road.

"They won't be stumbling around the way the other building is," said Walker. "It's basically a garage."

With bigger doors, the trucks can easily leave the station and get to you quicker.

"This will make it safer and easier," said Walker. "Time spent here will be less than what they have there."

A time-saver that could very well save your life.

Yakima County Fire District five will officially cut the ribbon on its new station tomorrow.

KIMA also took a look at how often a Yakima fire engine is out of service. These so called "brown outs" happen more often because of low staffing and budget cuts.

Yakima has a brown out for about a fourth of the calls. It happens when there is an overlap of vacation or sick days.The department runs with a smaller staff instead of calling in a firefighter to cover to save money on overtime.

"We can either layoff three firefighters or we can not use overtime to staff the extra engine on certain days and that's the decision that was made," said Yakima Fire Chief Dave Willson.

So far this year, the brown outs have not hurt responses. There have been no instances of more than one fire at the same time within Yakima city limits.