The side of a fire engine in Lloydminster. (Brendan Collinge, MyLloydminsterNow.com staff)
The Lloydminster Fire Department saw big changes in the past year as well as more calls.
The Fire Services 2019 Annual Report showed the Lloydminster Fire Department responded to a total of 565 calls. It is an increase of 149 calls from 416 in 2018.
The report showed crews were called to 89 fires which included structure fires, vehicle fires and wildland fires. It’s an increase of 23 calls from 2018 to 2019. Fire crews responded to 226 fire and false alarms as well as CO calls.
The service also saw a large spike in public service calls, co-medical responses and motor vehicle collisions. Public service calls nearly doubled to 103 while co-medical calls were up to 23 and motor vehicle collisions were at 98.
The Fire Services 2019 Annual Report shows a breakdown of the calls for the year. (City of Lloydminster)
Fire Chief Leigh Sawicki says the public service calls are counted when members have to follow up on an already put out fire.
“A good example is the Exsile fire. We went back probably eight or ten times for hotspots and assisted the RCMP to get into certain areas of that building. That’s going to increase those numbers dramatically and we don’t want to put them as a structure fire type call because then those numbers are going to be skewed.”
Sawicki says some of the categories saw an increase due to the change in how they mark down incidents and a change in how the department responds to calls.
“What was done in 2018 to 2019, not to say it wasn’t accurate but I think we can be more efficient when we are categorizing our calls. These numbers may change again in 2020 because we’ve looked at changing how we’re going to categorize some of those calls.”
In 2019, the fire department put a focus on fire prevention with the Residential Home Inspection program doubling in the last year to 986 from 492. Mayor Gerald Aalbers says it’s encouraging to see the increase in the fire prevention programs.
“Prevention is one of the key elements and responding to a fire call is the last choice. Having an increase in home visits and having that relationship with the fire department and the communication with residents is very important.”
Sawicki says they have more planned for their fire prevention programs which will be implemented after the COVID-19 pandemic has settled. Sawicki also says the fire department is looking into ways to communicate with the public when a fire occurs in the community.
City council was also provided with an update on the implementation of the Fire Services Master Plan. Close to 50 recommendations were made as part of the plan with three of them being completed so far. Twenty-three recommendations are in progress and 18 are in the research phase.
The fire department also saw ten new recruits join the department in 2019 for a total of 37 paid on call firefighters.