100 Mile Fire Rescue is reminding homeowners to get smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms, following growing numbers of residential fire calls.
In 2022, firefighters responded to 504 service calls, 81 of them fire related. Most were not wildland fires, but residential calls. These range from house fires to alarms going off as a result of smoke from cooking, or carbon monoxide reports.
“Those are much higher than most people think. Whether it’s smoke showing in an apartment, fire alarms going off or cooking events, those calls seem to be increasing,” fire chief Roger Hollander said.
“One thing I would like to get across to the public is to make sure you have smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms installed. On these calls, we continue to see homes that don’t have those alarms and that’s concerning for us. These alarms are what is keeping people alive in an emergency.”
These numbers have contributed to another record-breaking year for the fire department.
Hollander said he’s not surprised his department is now regularly breaking 500 calls a year. It’s a trend that has been increasing since 2015. At that time, the department got only 365 calls per year, he said.
“To me, 504 calls, that’s a lot of calls for a fire department of 30 people,” Hollander said. “I’m certainly proud of our members’ efforts over the last few years.”
Hollander said the calls in 2022 included 211 medical calls, 131 rescue calls, 81 administrative calls and the 81 fire related calls.
As more people move to the area, he said, there is an increased likelihood of emergency calls to the department.
This has put a strain on his firefighters, he added, and makes it difficult to retain members who often get burned out quickly.
“I don’t think we can continue this if the trend of calls keeps increasing, there’s too much of a burnout factor,” Hollander said. “We do thousands of hours of volunteer work (on top of calls) throughout the year.”
Hollander said to counteract the burnout, the department will hold its annual recruitment drive in February. He said its critical he keeps the number of paid on-call volunteers to just over 30. Next to Hollander and deputy chief Dave Bissat, the entire department is volunteer.
Hollander plans to continue lobbying the District of 100 Mile House for more support and funding to help meet the needs of the community. He will also conduct more inspections throughout 2023, especially with so many new businesses in town.