0610 Fire Department
Chief Ezekiel and some of the MBFD’s 63 firefighters stand in front of one of the departments new ambulances.
Some reports have revealed that the single most stressful occupation is a firefighter. And considering the 24-hour shifts, the crises involved in the everyday workings of the job and the fact that just a few seconds could mean the difference in life and death, perhaps that ranking is warranted.
Mountain Brook Fire Chief Robert Ezekiel agrees. “It’s a stressful job,” he said. “You basically work 56 hours a week. But it is a job that you do because you love to do it.”
Chief Ezekiel has been in the fire service for 34 years. He started his career with the Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service as a firefighter in 1973 and worked his way through the ranks to Chief Officer. He accepted the opportunity to serve as Fire Chief for the City of Mountain Brook in 1993.he said he is excited about the future at the Mountain Brook Fire Department for a variety of reasons, as there have been and will be several improvements in the department.
“We recently purchased two new ambulances,” Ezekiel said. “These are of better quality, are going to last longer and fill our needs a lot better.” One of the ambulances is housed at the main station in Crestline and the other is at the station on Old Leeds Road.
Some may not realize all of the services that the department provides – including ambulance service and paramedic service – on top of fighting fires. “The majority of our people are cross-trained as firefighters and paramedics,” Ezekiel said. “We respond to about 2,000 emergencies a year, and there are about 75 to 80 fires a year in the city.”
That means that the other calls are not fire related. In addition to fire suppression and emergency medical assistance and transport, the MBFD also provides rescue service (the MBFD are trained and equipped for a variety of rescue situations); hazardous materials response, inspections, public education and fire investigation, among other services.
And all of these services are performed using one of the fastest response times in the state. “Response time is everything” Ezekiel said. “We now use a pre-alert system that basically gets us out of the building and on our way before the vehicle is dispatched. We feel it saves us about 30 seconds, which can mean the difference in life or death. Think about how long 30 seconds is. That’s a long time when you are thinking about how a fire spreads or how long someone is not breathing.”
Ezekiel said the pre-alert system, which comes from a new software system utilized by the department, prevents emergency vehicles from having to drive recklessly through the city to get to the location in a timely manner. “You are not going to save time by driving recklessly and endangering the public,” he said. “You get it by reaction time.”
The MBFD protects 13 square miles of residential and commercial establishments (approximately 8,000 homes) from three stations. No fewer than 14 firefighters are on duty at all times.