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DFD calls up, false alarms down in 2019

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Dickinson Public Safety Center

Dickinson Fire Department responded to 511 incidents through Aug. 27.

DFD Chief Bob Sivak gave a brief summery of the department's activities this year at Tuesday's meeting of the Dickinson City Commission.

Of those 511 calls for service, 473 were handled by full-time staff, and 26 were responded to by the alert crew, a six to seven person team of volunteers joining the full-time staff.

Since Aug. 27, the DFD has responded to an additional 23 calls.

Last year, the DFD responded to a total of 681 calls and in 2017 had 649 calls for service.

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"We're at the beginning of September, and we're at 534," Sivak noted.

The majority of calls were medical/rescue at 31%, with false alarms at 25%, and at 17% good intent calls, which are calls by concerned citizens that needs to be checked.

Only 11% were calls for fire.

"In years past, our highest percentage category of calls were false alarms," Sivak said. "That category is going down, yet our overall call volume is increasing. Actual calls for service, where we need to be there, something's going on, is increasing and false calls are decreasing."

DFD staff has completed 824 hours of training this year, including basic firefighter operations, technical rescue, industrial firefighting, haz-mat and medical.

This year, 429 routine inspections have been conducted.

"Where we'd like to be at the end of the year is not quite what we're seeing happen," Sivak said. "Weather impacted us as far as shifts getting out on inspections, in February especially. We have checked this and we're going to be where we need to be."

Sivak said he'd like 800 to 850 inspections to be completed.

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"To be past mid-year at 429, we see that we've got to do things a little bit different to get to the end-of-the-year number we'd like to see," he said.

The city's safety codes play an important part in protecting the public, Sivak said.

On Aug. 24, after 10 p.m., the DFD responded to a call from an institutional occupancy on the north end of town.

"It was a stove top fire," he said. "There was cooking grease or oil in a pan on a stove top that caught fire while it was unattended."

The sole kitchen in-wall sprinkler activated, and that made all the difference.

The DFD responded and the first engine out was on-scene within seven minutes of dispatch receiving the call.

"Police department was on-scene before us, which is usually the case," Sivak said. "They're already out and about in their vehicles. They were already recognizing the need to evacuate the building and had an evacuation in progress."

The fire was out, though, by the time the DFD arrived.

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"Without a suppression system, that kitchen would have been gutted," he said. "We were on scene in seven minutes. That doesn't mean we're flowing water and attacking the fire at that point in time."

He added, "A fire doubles in size every four minutes. Without that system, it absolutely would have doubled."

Lives were saved thanks to that system, Sivak said.

"There were non-ambulatory clients. There would have been injuries," he said. "That building would not be in use today. That building stayed in use. The clients in this facility slept in their own beds that night because of that fire suppression system."

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