Editor’s note: Fifth in a series of stories reviewing 2013 through various departmental statistics and numbers.
Of the 1,427 total incident calls the St. Clair Fire Protection District was responsible for last year, only 8.5 percent of them were for actual fires.
New Fire Chief Les Crews recently released his department’s 2013 incident report summary, and it showed that the number of actual fire calls were down significantly last year, from 196 to 122, or about 38 percent.
In 2012, 15 percent of calls were to actual fires.
“Brush fires were way down, and structure fires were down,” said SCFPD Assistant Chief Mike Kelley, who served as interim chief last year.
Regarding the fewer number or brush fire calls, he said, “We had some wet spells last year, which helped, and I think weather in general helped us last year. But, I also think people are becoming more conscious about burning.”
The number of structure fires, which includes mobile homes, decreased from 30 in 2012 to 24 last year. Brush fires, which include vegetation, wooded-area and grass, dropped sharply from 92 to 49.
Other types of fires that were responded to included vehicles, rubbish, cooking and flues.
There again were no serious injuries or deaths related to fire calls last year.
However, fewer actual fire calls didn’t mean district firefighters were less busy. In 2013, the total number of recorded incidents was up almost 10 percent.
Last year’s 1,427 response calls compares with 1,302 in both 2011 and 2012.
The total number of calls in 2013 works out to be about four per day.
“We get called to a service call at dispatcher discretion,” Kelley said. “They’re making decisions on what they’re being told at the time. They’re always going to err on the side of caution.”
A significant reason for the jump in overall service calls came on the medical assist end. In 2012, firefighters responded to 352 of them. Last year, the total increased to 628, or a jump of about 78 percent.
“I can’t explain that one,” Kelley said. “But I think nationwide EMS response calls are up.”
The assistant chief said one possible explanation for that is the aging Baby Boomer population and that a higher percentage of people are becoming senior citizens who may need EMS services more often.
“That’s just an opinion,” Kelley said.
Fire department crews also responded to 152 motor vehicle accidents last year, including 48 with injuries. There were 11 extrications from vehicles needed. In 2012, those numbers were 136 and 52, respectively, with eight extrications.
Other figures of note from 2013 were 83 calls for potentially hazardous conditions with no fire involved, 138 general service calls, 195 good intent calls and 58 false alarms.
The 2013 service calls included 69 covered assignments, standbys or moveups. The good intent calls included 134 cancellations while en route.
“Our guys were very busy last year,” Kelley said. “And they handled everything well. They’re a dedicated group of individuals who are proud to serve.
“If you call, we’ll do whatever we can in order to serve. That’s why we’re here.”
The St. Clair Fire Protection District operates out of four houses. House 1 in St. Clair and House 2 in Lonedell are staffed 24 hours a day, seven days per week. House 3 is in the Piney Park area, and House 4 is on Highway 47 South close to the Washington County line.