|BFD responds to more calls than ever before|
|Written by Olivia Gilbertsen, Staff Writer|
|Tuesday, 26 February 2013 14:27|
The Bloomington Fire Department responded to over 2,000 calls in 2012, making it the busiest year in history.
Captain Brad McCollum said the number of calls increased by 576 reports. About 80 percent of the calls in 2012 were Emergency Medical Service calls and 141 of the calls were actual structure fires.
“The primary cause of the fires has been cooking. People get distracted while making dinner, whether it is from kids running around, the doorbell, a phone call, you name it. However, the most common cause of death from fire are those that are started by people smoking,” McCollum said.
There were no fatalities last year. The fire damages, on the other hand, were approximately $1.3 million.
The department has an average response rate of about five minutes and 30 seconds. The national standard is under six minutes.
“Having a rapid response time is a constant goal of all of our public safety personnel, fire and police. We are constantly taking proactive steps to keep the times as low as possible,” David Hales, Bloomington city manager, said.
The BFD has served the community for 160 years and has five stations and 106 full-time employees.
Hales said that because of the increase in fire calls, the city is hiring three more firefighters. The primary reason for the additional employees is to relieve current firefighters of heavy overtime hours.
“The three new firefighters will hopefully bring our overtime cost down and allow our current firefighters to maintain a healthy work-life balance,” he said.
The BFD responds to about one call every 50 minutes.
McCollum said his station has four trucks, which are all out at once in some cases.
If they are very busy, like many days in 2012, they will call the Normal Fire Department for assistance. He also said if Normal is abnormally busy, the firefighters at the Bloomington stations will help.
McCollum said the total number of calls in 2012 was 10,310 and 8,286 were Emergency Medical Service calls. In the Emergency Medical Service calls, the fire department transported 10,051 patients to hospitals in the area.
“We had 2,017 fire calls; only 141 were actual structure fires in 2012. Causes for the fire calls were events like power lines going down, car fires, illegal burning or sometimes even false alarms,” McCollum said.
Hales said he thought the increase in calls is due to the aging population the nation is seeing. Medicine is improving and citizens are living longer, which in turn expands the city of Bloomington and the number of fire calls.
The fire department offers ways for the citizens of Bloomington to become more educated in fire safety. There are programs for both children and adults. The training includes putting out actual fires and 3-D educational simulations, among other activities.
For more information on the safety programs, contact Brad McCollum at 309-434-2635.