“When I was a fireman we used to think, and that was years ago, 52 calls a year was a huge number,” says Mayor Mitch Campsall.
100 Mile House Fire Rescue responded to 450 calls in 2017, up from 365 in 2016 and 278 in 2014 (a 61.4 per cent increase since 2014).
Of those 450 calls, 128 were for fires, 111 for rescues and 211 medical.
“We are definitely up from last year,” says Fire Chief Roger Hollander.
The increase is not due to the summer’s wildfires, he says.
“In our particular case, from our hall’s perspective that call that we had for over a month there, was basically one call. That was only one stat for us. We didn’t have multiple [calls] due to the wildfire season. Those numbers reflect just regular fire calls that we would have gotten anyways,” he says adding that it may be different for other halls.
“In our particular case, it was just one call; the longest call we’ve ever had.”
Despite the high number of calls and the summer’s wildfires, the hall managed to stay within their budget, according to Campsall.
“They’re doing an incredibly good job. [Last] year as we know was an incredibly harsh year for our fire department. They did an outstanding job throughout the year and they stayed within budget as well.”
They’re the fourth busiest fire department in northern B.C., says Campsall. Not in a million years could the community afford to move away from an on-call basis, he adds.
“All I can do is say thank you.”
They’re not sure what’s causing the increase, says Hollander, adding that other departments are seeing an increase as well.
While they got some new recruits in 2017, some people left for various reasons meaning they’ll be looking for another five members in 2018, says Hollander.
“It’s just the nature of volunteering and paid on call.”
One factor for the climbing number of calls may be ambulance assists, says Campsall.
“For the last few years, [the province] is relying on our fire department as a backup ambulance so there are issues with that. We are going to look at that.”