The personnel of the Turlock Fire Department were called into action more frequently in 2013, more so than the past four years, but at the same time they managed to bring the response times down to levels not seen since 2009, according to the department’s annual report.
The fire department responded to 5,879 emergency calls in 2013, which is up by 5.8 percent from the year prior when the department answered 5,542 emergency calls. The demand for emergency services has increased by more than 16 percent over the last four years for the fire department, said Turlock Fire Chief Tim Lohman.
“This trend doesn’t look like it is going to change anytime soon,” Lohman said.
On average, fire personnel arrived at emergency calls within five minutes of the report being received.
“With the continued increase in call volume, I feel very fortunate that we are able to maintain this level of response,” Lohman said.
The response time is three seconds quicker than in 2012 and is the fastest rate since 2009 when the department had an average response time of 4:58.
Studies from the National Fire Protection Agency have shown that arriving at a structure fire within five minutes greatly increases the chances of the fire being kept to one room or floor. Additionally, medical intervention given within five minutes of a trauma greatly increases the odds of survival.
While the response times fell, the dollar losses from fires skyrocketed in 2013, largely due to one fire. For 2013, the fire department estimated the dollar loss from fires was more than $6.3 million, of which more than $5 million came from the arson fire of the former Lactalis cheese plant on W. Main Street in February 2013.
Of all the incidents the fire department responded to in 2013, the majority were for emergency medical services (66 percent) and other services (23 percent), which includes reports of smoke, animal rescues, and someone in distress. This category also includes lift assists, which the fire department responded to 264 times in 2013. Of that 35 calls came from care facilities, two in particular, said Lohman.
“We are going to be working with them to reduce those calls,” Lohman said.
Lohman said the majority of these types of calls come from individuals who “just don’t have anyone to call.”