The Turlock Fire Department saw a modest increase in the number of calls received over the last year, but the blaze at Crowell School sent the dollar loss for the 2012 year skyrocketing, according to the recently released annual report.
The fire department responded to 5, 542 calls in 2012, which amounted to a 6.7 percent increase from the year prior. Of those calls, 67 percent were for emergency medical services and 4 percent were for fires. In 2011, emergency medical service calls made up 69 percent of all calls received, while fire calls accounted for 4 percent.
The number of calls received increased for the year, but the average response time fell by one second from the year prior. The average response time for 2012 was 5:03. Research has shown that medical intervention given within five minutes of a trauma or cardiac event greatly increases the patients’ chances of survival. Additionally, data from the National Fire Protection Agency shows that about half of structure fires kept to the room or floor of origin had response times of less than five minutes.
A fire in an empty classroom wing at Crowell School in January 2012 caused an estimated $1.5 million in damage. The total dollar loss from fires in 2012 was estimated at more than $2.5 million according to the annual report.
“The Crowell School fire was one event that significantly contributed to the total dollar loss increase we experienced last year,” TFD Chief Tim Lohman stated in the report. “When reviewing total dollar loss for the last five years, 2012 was the highest overall dollar loss. We will monitor this emerging trend to identify if there are any internal changes we need to make.”
Over the 2012 year, the fire department saw 42 arson-related fires. The Turlock fire and police departments collaborate with arson investigations and the partnership has been hailed by the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office as a model program that has resulted in a number of closed cases.
The 2012 year also saw the fire department kick-off a new charitable campaign to help fund cancer research. The fire department partnered with Emanuel Medical Center to sell specially designed department T-shirts in pink, with all the profits going to EMC’s Cancer Center. The campaign raised $18,000 for research.