Wednesday April 23, 2014

Firefighters answer more calls in 2013

file photo

Flames shoot up in the air on Alexander Avenue after sparks caused a fire that destroyed a carport and part of the home.

The city’s growing population contributed to an increase in calls for Kamloops Fire and Rescue in 2013.

As of early New Year’s Eve, crews were dispatched 6,625 times, said life safety educator Sheldon Guertin.

Fire and Rescue began using a new records’ system last year, and only has statistics from August 2012 until year end, he said. Firefighters answered 2,191 calls during that time.

“There are more calls this year than there were last year,” said Guertin. “We were sitting at about 6,400 calls (in 2012).”

Through the year, there’s no rhyme or reason to the amount of calls, when they come in, or what they are about, he said. And the year-end tally doesn’t deviate much from year to year.

“You see it within five per cent every year. We usually don’t stray much above and below those marks,” said Guertin.

“This year we did see an increased mark, but our city is slowly growing.”

The latest census data puts the population at 85,678.

Fire crews were dispatched to 52 residential fires in 2013. These included everything from a full-on house fires to a pot on a stove with damage, said Guertin.

Commercial fires weren’t far behind, with 51 reported last year, he said.

More than half of last year’s calls — 4,415 — were to medical emergencies such as shortness of breath, heart attacks, strokes and industrial accidents.

“These make up about 60 to 65 per cent of our calls,” said Guertin.

The remainder included 498 motor vehicle accidents with injuries, 109 rural rescues, a rope rescue and four ice rescues from local bodies of water.

Firefighters also attended 152 public-service calls. Guertin said these weren’t emergencies, but broken water pipes or smoke alarms going off for no reason.

Fire and Rescue now tracks false alarms. Guertin said there were 158 at residences and 394 at businesses in 2013.

Repeated false alarms can result in a fee for service. Guertin said first and second alarms result in a warning. A third will cost the home or business owner $150, a fourth $250, and the fifth and every one after $400.

The fee is in place to encourage people to maintain their fire-alarm systems, he said.

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