PERRY TWP. - Township Fire Chief Bruce Whitcher said residents don't need to apologize for calling firefighters to their homes if they suspect something is wrong - it's their job to respond.
Township firefighters responded to more calls last year than the previous year, according to department records provided by Whitcher. The total calls for 2011 was 130, an increase of 39 calls from the 91 calls logged in 2010.
Of the 130 calls, 28 were listed under the fire category, with only three of those listed as structure fires, which was an increase of one from the previous year.
Whitcher said they have residents apologizing to them all the time when they're called out for something which turns out to be minor, but he explained that's what the fire department does.
"We want to make sure you're safe. We want to make sure you're fine," he said. "Don't ever be afraid to call. That's what we do."
The list of calls for 2011 covered everything from structure and vehicle fires to lift assists, smoke detector malfunctions and an animal rescue.
Besides the structure fires, the incidents under the fire heading included: five mutual aid calls to help other departments, a decrease from the 11 mutual aid calls in 2010; six unauthorized burning complaints (15 burning complaints in 2010); five trash fires; three vehicle fires (two in 2010); and one each of fires involving cooking, grass, a chimney, a dumpster, a 4-wheeler, and one standby call. The list in 2010 included one each of fires in a kitchen, a machine and grass. There was also a lightning strike in 2010.
Under electrical, firefighters in 2011 responded to 11 cases of power lines down, two arcing/shorting wires (the same in 2010) and two electrical problems. Under alarm systems, they dealt with four false alarms, two smoke detector malfunctions and one alarm malfunction. In 2010, there were five alarm calls.
Under EMS, firefighters in 2011 assisted EMS ambulance crews 19 times, responded to 13 motor vehicle accidents with injuries and handled eight lift assists. In 2010, they went to 13 accidents and helped with 11 lift assists.
Under the hazardous heading, they responded to eight carbon monoxide calls (five in 2010), four natural gas leaks (the same in 2010, two hazardous conditions and one chemical spill.
Under miscellaneous, they had 25 calls in 2011: six cancelled while responding; four citizen complaints; four police assists; two water problems (two basement pumps in 2010); two odor of smoke calls (seven smoke investigations in 2010); two service/special calls; one animal rescue; one storm damage call (six trees down calls in 2010); one good intent call (one welfare check call in 2010).
Whitcher said they're looking into grants to try to start a smoke detector program and advised residents should be sure to keep their batteries changed on their smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
He said the all-volunteer department is planning to hold an open house later in the year to tell people all about what they do and give them a chance to see the station and the fire trucks. The date will be announced.
Mary Ann Greier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org