Controversy is brewing over the Long Beach Fire Department’s response time to a structure fire that displaced a family in East Long Beach on Sunday.

According to the department, a garage fire was reported on the 4300 block of Clark Avenue at about 12:34PM, and although the first truck responded within five minutes and 16 seconds, the first engine didn’t respond until about eight minutes and 35 seconds after the fire was first reported.

The required time a unit is supposed to respond to a fire within is eight minutes, according to the department.

Engine 19, which was the closest engine to the scene of the fire, was out on a medic call and LBFD sent out the next closest engine, Engine 5, to respond. Engine 5 comes from Station 5, about four miles away from the scene of the fire.

Engines 11, 12 and 9 were called from other fire stations, as well as a unit from L.A. County Fire, to respond the department said, and the blaze was out by about 12:58PM.

“Every fire is going to get 3 engines, a paramedic unit, a ladder truck and a batallion chief,” explained LBFD Deputy Chief Mike Sarjeant. The first responding truck, Truck 17, had no water on it to extinguish the flames, Sarjeant said.

While there is speculation the engine did not respond due to a problem with the department’s newly-installed Rapid Medic Deployment (RMD) paramedic system, Chief Michael Duree argued that the late engine had nothing to do with RMD.

Instead, he cited a budget cut in recent years when the department had to cut vehicles in order to save costs. Because of this, not every station has an engine with water, he said. 

Engine 19 was not available until 1:11PM, about 13 minutes after the fire had already been extinguished.

As a result of the fire, the family living in the home was displaced.