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Turlock City firefighters busier in 2011

POSTED May 29, 2012 10:42 p.m.

The Turlock Fire Department responded to more calls for service in 2011 than they have in the past four years, according to the department’s annual report released May 22.

In 2011 the fire department received 5,205 calls for service last year, TFD Chief Tim Lohman said in his presentation of the report to the City Council on May 22. In 2010, the fire department responded to 4,943 calls. The departments received 5,141 calls in 2009; 5,020 in 2008; and 4,845 in 2007.

The department’s average calls per day also rose to 9.8 in 2011, up from 9.2 in 2010.

The highest percentage of calls, at 69 percent, were for emergency medical services. Fire calls account for 4 percent of the incident types.

“That’s in line with the national average,” Lohman said.

The dollar loss from fires decreased dramatically in 2011. The total fire loss in 2011 was estimated at $703,168, with $137,271 of that attributable to arson fires. In 2010 the total fire loss was an estimated $1.3 million. Lohman cautioned the dollar loss will rise in next year’s report because the January fire at Crowell Elementary School caused a dollar loss that exceeds all of last year’s total.

The number of arson investigations declined in 2011 to 27, down from 38 in 2010.

A major concern among all fire departments in maintaining an acceptable response time to calls. The National Fire Protection Agency’s guideline sets the call receipt and processing time at one minute, the turnout time at one minute and the travel time at four minutes. TFD’s average response time in 2011 was at five minutes and five seconds, which was one second more than 2010.

“We’re still in line and doing very well in that area,” Lohman said.

The 2011 year brought both blessings and frustrations for the fire department when it came to equipment. The fire department outfitted five fire engines and one battalion chief vehicle with new Mobile Data Computers. The new system comes with some of the latest mapping technology and programs that are designed to improve safety, response times, and provides valuable information about the situations firefighters rush into.

The new MDCs replace the previous MDCs that the fire department had gotten second-hand from the Turlock Police Department eight years ago.

“That was a huge improvement for us,” Lohman said. “We had previous units that were unreliable.”

The purchase price of the MDCs was funded by the Assistance to Firefighters Grant that the Modesto Fire Department was awarded on behalf of all of Stanislaus County.

Through the grant, which required a 20 percent match, the TFD was able to get almost $40,000 worth of equipment for $8,957, Lohman said.

On the other side, one fire engine — the newest in the fleet — continues to experience problems and was out of service for 71 shifts last year. Lohman explained the problem is one that is being experienced by fire departments across the country and pertains to engines with motors built during a certain time frame. Lohman told the City Council that the manufacturer has released some new information that should help resolve the problems.

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