The Sparwood Fire Department (SFD) saw a record number of calls in 2021.
“2021 was a very busy year for Sparwood Fire, in fact, it was the busiest year on record. SFD responded to 142 calls during 2021,” reads a Jan. 24 Facebook post from the department.
Motor vehicle incidents represented the highest volume of calls at 44, with fire calls at 37.
“Basically, in 2021, our fire calls overall were probably the highest that we’ve had,” said chief Dean Spry.
“And that’s all different types of fires. That could be camp fires, it could be a dumpster fire, could be a structure fire, or a vehicle fire… And definitely our motor vehicle accidents in 2021 were the highest amount that we’ve had any given year.”
Alarm calls were hovering around average at 31, but public service calls, which include downed hydro wires, gas leaks, lift assists, non-vehicle-incident rescues, and flooding “was the highest (last) year, too,” and came in at 29 for the year.
“Everything was up a little bit (last) year as opposed to any other year,” Spry said.
They had one call for mutual aid last year.
The last highest year on record was in 2017, which saw 140 calls for service for the SFD.
“We’ve gone from, in 2010, our call volume was 55 calls, and then in 2021 we’re at 142 calls.”
The record, which goes back to 2010, is as follows: 2010, 55 calls; 2011, 103 calls; 2012, 77 calls; 2013, 94 calls; 2014, 101 calls; 2015, 124 calls; 2016, 103 calls; 2017, 140 calls; 2018, 129 calls; 2019, 116 calls; 2020, 94 calls; 2021, 142 calls.
Two of the busier months of 2021 were July (21 calls) and December (26 calls). Spry attributes the volume in July to the extreme heat that hovered over parts of the province last summer. The December calls were majority vehicle related, which Spry attributes to snowy weather and slippery highways.
They also had an above-average amount of calls from Area A of the Regional District of East Kootenay, a part of which the SFD is under contract to serve.
“Those calls were up dramatically this year,” Spry said.
Regarding safety and prevention, Spry said the SFD has noticed that when a lot of snow falls, they have issues with “high efficiency furnaces”. Vents get blocked, and it causes issues with carbon monoxide, which is deadly.
“You need to make sure that your vents are cleared.”
He also said that when the highways are in a bad condition due to weather, to avoid non-essential travel.
“And just remember, when you’re burning in the summertime and it’s dry out, in Sparwood you do need a permit to burn any open fires. And you need to stay and watch it. Don’t leave any fire unattended. Same with cooking. Never leave cooking unattended as well.”
“Our call volume does fluctuate from year to year, and we appreciate the support that we get from our council and our staff here, and the firefighters that come out at any time of the day to respond to any type of emergency.”