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Dickinson firefighters increase training by nearly 200%

During this week’s Dickinson City Commission meeting, Fire Chief Jeremy Presnell updated the city with a monthly report. One of the main highlights from Presnell’s report was the amount of training the Dickinson Fire Department conducted in June — more than a 400-hour increase than in May.

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Dickinson firefighters work around the clock at both Station 1 and Station 2 (shown above) to respond to calls and continuously train for the unpredictable. In June, the Dickinson Fire Department increased its training by approximately 192% compared to May's report. (Jackie Jahfetson/The Dickinson Press)
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Though most Dickinson residents understand that burning in the current elements is like a tinderbox, the Dickinson Fire Department works around the clock, training for the unimaginable. In June alone, fire crews increased its monthly training hours by approximately 192% compared to May.

Dickinson Fire Chief Jeremy Presnell reported an increase in training from 238 hours in May to 694 hours in June.

“We did see a significant increase in training hours for the month of June; the largest portion of training hours came from an incident command course that our Officers attended called BlueCard Command,” Presnell said. “The remainder of the training hours come from various other topics including EMS, driver/operator training, pump operations and basic fire fighter strategy and tactics.”

Insurance Services Offices scores each fire department on how they perform with the organization’s standards to determine property insurance costs for a community, Presnell said.

“ISO requires that all firefighters complete 192 hours of fire related training and six additional hours of hazardous materials training a year,” he said, explaining, “In addition to the 198 hours, officers are required to complete an additional 12 hours a year of officer training.”

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In June, the Dickinson Fire Department responded to 62 calls for service, ringing in a total of 398 calls for the year so far. Though last month was a little quieter for the department, Presnell noted that it was still an increase from 2020 by approximately 39%.

The highest two call types were emergency medical service incidents at 28 calls and false alarm calls at 19. Presnell added that there was a slight increase in good intent calls with people calling in pit fires during the burn ban.

Each month, Presnell breaks down the response time for both stations with a goal to meet the national standard of five minutes and 20 seconds. However, due to the bulk of calls’ location and time of day, there was a slight jump in response times in June with a 19-second increase at Station 1 and a 35-second increase at Station 2.

Station 1 averaged at six minutes, 34 seconds whereas Station 2 fell around eight minutes, 50 seconds.

“We always strive to meet the national response time standard, there are several factors that are out of our control that can influence this such as traffic, whether we are running lights and sirens and the distance the call is from the station,” Presnell remarked.

At the end of 2020, the DFD transitioned its 24-hour shifts to 48/96 rotations. Now, Dickinson firefighters are on-duty for 48 hours and off-duty for 96 hours. Staffing for Station 1 all depends on the number and types of calls that are reported, Presnell added.

“Firefighters don’t really get downtime,” he noted. “While they are not responding to calls, they are busy conducting station, equipment and apparatus maintenance, training, participating in public education events and conducting building inspections.”

For July, Presnell hopes to continue working with his crew to incorporate additional training, community outreach and reduce response times.

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Jackie Jahfetson is a graduate of Northern Michigan University whose journalism path began in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as a freelancer for The Daily Mining Gazette. Her previous roles include editor-in-chief at The North Wind and reporter at The Mining Journal in Marquette, Mich. Raised on a dairy farm, she immediately knew Dickinson would be her first destination west as she focuses on gaining aptitude for ranch life, crop farming and everything agriculture. She covers hard news stories centered on government, fires, crime and education. When not fulfilling deadlines and attending city commission meetings, she is a budding musician and singer.
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