The Union Fire Protection District saw an approximately 12 percent increase in the total number of responses in 2017 compared to the previous year.
In 2017, firefighters ran 1,589 alarms, up from 1,420 in 2016, an increase of 169 runs, according to the district’s year end summary provided by Fire Chief Russell Hamilton.
Crews responded to 125 structure, vehicle, brush and flues fires, an increase from 119 in 2016, 77 in 2015, and 87 in 2014.
The department assisted in 976 emergency medical responses, including for vehicle accidents, assisting emergency medical service and vehicle and water rescues. In 2016, the department assisted in 840 emergency medical calls.
Additionally, there were 40 hazardous conditions to control, including fuel spills, gas leaks, power lines and electrical hazards.
There were 56 service calls to include assisting police, animal rescues and mutual aid standby.
Crews responded to 311 miscellaneous calls to check the area, controlled burns and reports crews were unable to locate.
There were 77 automatic alarms, which include smoke detectors and unintentional dispatches.
Fire prevention activities included fireworks display permits, one; firework sales permits, three; hood system permits, three; fire alarm system permits, two; new sprinkler system permits, eight; new commercial building permits, 47; and documented fire training hours, 9,045.
The department has 15 paid firefighters, three administrators and about 20 volunteer firefighters.
The department has been working with the Fire and EMS Operations Board (FEOB) to fine-tune the ProQA patient assessments used by dispatchers. ProQA is dispatching software that that helps dispatchers with case entry and questioning during emergencies.
“There are some universal standards we try to meet,” Hamilton said, adding that the system is dynamic and a learning process for all.
Franklin County Dispatch, under the direction of Abe Cook and Aaron Aitch, worked toward a tax initiative for dispatch, however, that was not accepted by the Franklin County Commission.
The commission supported the improvements to the jail/sheriff’s department, which includes improvements to dispatch facilities but does not include continued operations funding.
“The FEOB group was really hoping to get some type of sustainable funding for dispatch so we could step aside and let that system grow. There’s no sustainable funding for it,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton said the city is seeing some growth, particularly in commercial areas. The number of commercial occupancy activities reflect the growth.
In 2017, there were 2,209 inspections, compared to 2,094 in 2016. There were 18 investigations, 93 consultations and 55 building plan reviews.
“Hopefully that’s all good for the economy,” Hamilton said.
In April, Mike Dedert was elected to the fire board.
Union Fire, EMS and Police all partnered in 2017 to participate in drug impairment classes.
For the sixth year in a row, Union and Boles fire protection districts provided Firefighter I and II training class, which is state-recognized.
The fire district and EMS received Mission Life Line recognition by the American Heart Association for providing stroke treatment to patients in need
The spring of 2017 brought flooding to the area, however, residents and businesses “self-prepared and required minimal assistance from the fire department compared to the flood the previous year.”
“People had learned and remembered,” Hamilton said. “We didn’t have to go out and tell people to leave their homes because they were going to be flooded. We didn’t have to tell people to get out of their businesses. Everybody understood what was going to take place.”
The fire department was active with fire prevention week activities and took part in the city’s business expo held at Union High School. Prior to the expo, opportunities for students to learn more about emergency services were held.
Firefighters participated in a benefit basketball game against police at St. Francis Borgia Regional High School with proceeds to help six local families dealing with cancers.
Several firefighters who are members of Missouri Task Force 1 were activated to help with disasters throughout the country.
Firefighters also helped light and decorate the home of a young girl with a life-threatening illness in the Hermann area over the holiday season.
Goals for 2018
In 2018, the Station 1 parking lot, front ramp and driveways will be paved.
Hamilton said improving radio communications for fire and EMS will continue this year.
Additionally, the Insurance Service Organization (ISO) has a new program called “Community Risk Reduction” the department will work toward fulfilling.
Officials will look at current apparatus and necessary replacement.
The webpage will be updated. Firefighter certification classes will continue starting this spring.
Staffing Station 3 will be explored, Hamilton noted. However, before three crews could be stationed at the firehouse on the east side of Union, an addition will be needed there.
While Station 1 is in the center of the district, call volume is higher in the eastern part of Union compared to where Station 1 is located, in the center of the district.
The district’s geographical boundaries consist of 96 square miles in the heart of Franklin County to include the city of Union and the surrounding unincorporated area.