In 2017, St. Clair Fire Protection District responded to 125 more emergency calls than in 2016, according to Fire Capt. Dan Cooley.

The total number of emergency calls firefighters responded to were 1,836 last year. In 2016, there were 1,711.

Out of the total number of calls in 2017, 1,059 were fire service-related and 777 were emergency medical service and ambulance assist-related calls, according to Cooley.

In 2016, the fire district responded to 722 emergency medical service related calls and 989 fire service-related calls.

“It’s never a good thing that we’re up in the number of calls, but it’s the nature of the beast,” Cooley said.

“If we have any kind of a population increase, you’re going to have a call increase.”

The flooding in May and the increased amount of brush fires due to the dry weather in the fall also contributed to the amount of calls the fire district received last year.

“There’s just a lot of variables that come into play as to why we ran 125 calls more,” he said.

“In 2018, we may not run that many more calls. We may run less. It’s an unpredictable science.”

St. Clair Fire Protection District covers approximately 240 square miles. The district is divided into four subdistricts. Station 1 is located within St. Clair city limits, Station 2 is located in Lonedell, Station 3 is located off Highway K and Station 4 is located off Highway 47.

Station 1 received 1,147 calls, Station 2 received 351 calls, Station 3 received 85 calls and Station 4 received 39 calls for 2017.

Last year, there 37 structure fires, 27 vehicle fires, 80 brush fires and 24 controlled burns, according to Cooley. There were 165 motor vehicle accidents with/without injuries, there were 18 motor vehicle and water rescues and 777 medical and EMS assists.

“We have an aging population. We’re running a lot more medical calls (and) a lot more car wrecks due to the aging population,” Cooley said.

Additionally, there were 250 dispatched and canceled en route calls, 60 false alarms/false calls, 71 calls for a move up or standby at a station for an outside agency, 73 calls for mutual aid to the scene to assist an outside agency, two hazardous material responses and 252 hazardous condition calls.

Cooley said hazardous condition calls can range from wires down, wash down class for fuel spills, electrical problems, carbon monoxide incidents, animal rescues, lockouts and more.

For the district to only receive two hazardous material calls last year was good, according to Cooley.

“With the amount of interstate that we have and the amount of chemicals going up and down the highway, it’s pretty good to only have two hazardous material calls,” he said.

Another positive observation Cooley noted was that there were no major injuries among firefighters over the year.

“That’s a big thing. Running the amount of calls we ran and not have any serious injuries in the fire service in our district, that is a positive.

“We’re doing everything we can to be as safe as we can and provide the absolute best fire protection to our citizens as we can,” Cooley said.

He added that the district ran “125 more calls with the same amount of manpower and same equipment.

“So that’s got to say something (and) to do it as safely as we’ve done and not have any serious injuries than we had (in the past).”