Fire calls were on the rise again in 2013 compared to the previous year.
In a report prepared by Union Fire Protection Chief Russ Hamilton it shows 1,115 total calls last year, which is 96 more than the 1,019 calls in 2012.
Hamilton explained that much of the increase is due to an agreement with the Union Ambulance District to provide mutual aid to more medical calls.
“We’re making sure that on life-threatening medical calls we have a minimum of four people on the scene — two from the ambulance and two from the fire,” he said.
There were 101 more emergency medical incidents last year, 589, compared to the 488 in 2012. That includes car crashes, EMS calls and vehicle and water rescues.
Historically a fire crew was not dispatched to most EMS calls.
“Before last year, if they needed assistance (ambulance crew) they would call,” Hamilton said. “Now it is a predetermined response.
“The EMS and fire are working together to provide more manpower,” he added.
There was a sharp increase in the number of “hazardous condition calls,” which include fuel spills, gas leaks, power lines, electrical hazards and building collapses.
There were 137 calls in 2013, compared to 61 in 2012.
Hamilton said that is partly due to strong storms that blew through the area last spring.
“We had a couple of good storms,” he said. “There were a couple of 12-hour periods that we ran many wires down calls.”
Mutual aid calls were down in 2013, but Hamilton said there really is no apparent reason for the decrease. Those calls — assist to police, animal rescues and assist to other fire districts — were down from 64 in 2012 to 21 last year.
Hamilton said firefighters trained with area law enforcement agencies at Union High School to identify how to approach active shooter situations.
“We’re taking a totally different approach,” he said. “The approach had been to sit back and wait, but now we realize that cost people their lives.”
Hamilton compared the new and previous approaches to Korean and Vietnam wars.
“In Korea, the injured were taken to MASH (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital),” he explained. “In Vietnam the medics went in and tried to provide better care.
“Instead of waiting for law enforcement officers to bring wounded out, we’re going in to get them,” Hamilton added.
• The fire district began construction of a new training facility and tower at Firehouse No. 1 last year. The tower was completed this year and training already has begun there.
• Fire Board member Joe Purschke was elected into office. Outgoing board member Steve Riechers was recognized for his service.
• The Union and Boles fire districts partnered to provide firefighter I and firefighter II training classes, Participants received state certifications.
• The district purchased a 1998 ladder truck to replace a 1989 model.
• Members of the fire district who are part of Missouri Task Force 1 were mobilized to assist with flooding in Colorado.
Following is a breakdown of types of alarms the district responded to in 2012:
• Building, vehicle and brush fires — 127, an increase of three;
• Vehicle accidents, assist EMS, and vehicle and water rescues — 589, an increase of 101;
• Fuel spills, gas leaks, power lines, electrical hazards and building collapses — 137, increase of 76;
• Assist police, animal rescues and mutual aid standby — 21, a decrease of 43;
• Check the area, controlled burns and unable to locate — 153, a decrease of 14;
• Smoke detectors, carbon monoxide alarms and sprinkler systems — 80, a decrease of 11; and
• Citizen complaints and unintentional dispatches — eight, a decrease of three.
Fire Inspection and Training Activities for 2013:
• Commercial inspections performed — 1,930, an increase of 44;
• New occupancy inspections — 58, a decrease of 86.
• New commercial building permits — 92, a decrease of 25; and
• Documented fire training hours — 14,320, a decrease of 1,244.