Long Lake Fire Chief James Van Eyll gave the 2018 report to Long Lake council members during their June 4 meeting.
There are currently 37 active members on the fire department that are classified as either firefighter I or II state certified, first responders or EMT-certified and HazMat operations-certified.
Last year, the department had 414 incident calls, compared to 383 in 2017. Within Long Lake and the surrounding cities, 31 of the calls were related to a fire, 120 were rescue and emergency medical service incidents, and 72 were hazardous condition that was not a fire. There were also 99 good intent calls. According to Van Eyll, staff has looked into why that number is high.
“There’s been some questioning that. If you look at percentage breakdown for each individual, there’s a higher percentage of those types of calls. We’re trying to figure out why that’s happening but haven’t heard their analysis,” he said.
Van Eyll explains a good intent call could be someone thinking they’re having a heart attack but find out once a police officer is there that they are not and fire crews are not needed. Some of those calls can also be due to burnt food in a home. Van Eyll added in those cases they try to educate the residents. False alarm calls, such as malfunctioning smoke alarms is another good intent call. In that situation, they try to assist the resident with their alarm.
“One of the things I’ve seen is there is no consistency of number of calls. They kind of bounce up and down. They’re kind of all over the place,” he said.
The department had an average of eight minutes and 32 seconds on-scene time with an average of 12 members to respond per call. Approximately half of the department’s calls happen on a weekday between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
There were also some newcomers and retirees in 2018. The firefighters who retired include Neil Giese and Mark Warden, who served over 20 years, Jim Elder and Doug Johnson who both served over 10 years.
JB Seals was the department’s only probationary member. Derek Lee and Shaun Rioux came off their probationary status in 2018.
The department also has training goals set for 2019, which include: training with tabletops, mutual aid partner training and getting to know your firefighter’s family.
Other goals for 2019 include trying to “beef up” recruiting by creating a recruitment committee in an effort to improve in-service times. According to Van Eyll, they’re going to have to stop thinking that every seat in the truck needs to be full in order to get out the door. With neighboring departments also contributing, there are an adequate number of firefighters on the scene.
They also plan to define and fund uniform SOP, seat a five-year plan for new firefighters and reach out to the community by getting feedback to better understand and improve their quality of service.