As the old saying goes, "you make up time getting out of the door (firehouse) on an emergency run, not on the street (driving fast)".
To compare todays "turnout" times to those of times past, a few different stories come to mind. The first is of Engine Company No. 4 in the (Washington, DC) District of Columbia Fire Department. This company in itself is rich with history. From the early 1900's until 1962, this unit was one of the DCFD's all African-American regiments. The pride that the men assigned to this unit possessed was certainly second to none. Mirroring the traditions and pride of the Tuskegee Airmen, this proud group prided themselves on getting out the door faster than any of the surrounding companies. Often times, they would affect several rescues or beat other units into the scene that were coming from a closer distance. It was said, by many of the companies men, that they would get out the door so fast that they would leave the newly assigned "rookie" standing at the watch desk. To put this in perspective, the watch desk sat between the companies wagon and pumper (two-piece Engine Company) at the very front of the Engine House.
Another story that comes to mind is that of Engine Company No. 23 of the District of Columbia Fire Department. During the times of horse drawn fire apparatus, the local newspaper (Washington's Evening Star) held a competition to see which Washington, DC firehouse was able to respond the fastest. Engine Company No. 23 was deemed as such when they were recorded as "out the door" in six seconds flat. This meant the alarm was received, men on board, horses hitched and across the threshold of the Engine House door in SIX SECONDS. The plaque that was awarded to the company is still displayed in the hallway of the first floor.
Certainly, rules and PPE have changed since the times of the aforementioned responses, but people in our respective communities still require the fire department to help them. Sometimes more than ever before. Also, as many studies have proved, fires are burning faster now than ever before. Especially with the differences in building materials and their contents. In addition to this, traffic congestion continues to get worse in many parts of the United States, even in rural areas. This should mean that we continue to pride ourselves in "getting out the door" as quickly and as safely as possible. As I have said in many other previous posts, the only way to be "safe" in carrying out our duties is to know our job(s). In this case, it would mean knowing our district, its addresses, buildings, anomalies and best routes of travel to name a few. If you are in the mindset of "taking your time", you will likely provide for a negative outcome at an incident where lives were at stake and time was of the essence. Don't allow something to happen at an incident that you may have been able to mitigate quickly. It will likely weigh pretty heavy on your conscience. Not to mention the affects it may have on crew morale, etc.