KELOWNA - The release of the 2014 annual report by the Kelowna Fire Department provides a glimpse of what the largest fire department in the B.C. Interior goes through in a year.
“Kelowna Fire Department responded to just over 9,500 calls for service which was a two per cent increase from 2013,” says fire chief Jeff Carlisle, in a media release.
The department consists of nine fire stations staffed by 96 career fire fighters and 42 paid on-call firefighters.
Those firefighters responded to 9,560 incidents in 2014 with July being the busiest month with 985 incidents and January the slowest with 576 calls.
By far the busiest station was Water Street downtown, which answered 3,165 of those incident responses, followed by the Rutland station at 2,241, Main station on Enterprise with 2,094 and Mission at 1,454 calls.
While emergency responses were up two per cent over last year, there has been a gradual decrease of two per cent over the last five years. The department credits the overall reduction to a change in policy regarding the inspection of burn piles and a reduction in calls for assistance by B.C. Ambulance.
When it comes to response times for structure fires, the department aims to deploy 16 firefighters and have them arrive within seven minutes and 20 seconds from time of dispatch 90 per cent of the time.
To fight those fires, the department maintains a fleet of 22 fire trucks of varying types, along with 10 staff vehicles. Staff took delivery of a new ladder truck in early January and are expecting delivery of a rescue engine in early 2016.
Staff conducted 3,778 fire inspections last year and report a satisfactory outcome of just over 50 per cent, compared to 2010 when just 31 per cent of inspections were satisfactory.
The department reports 5,271 code violations from those inspections and 16 formal fire investigations — all structure fires.
The dollar loss from fires is down markedly from the year before at $4.3 million, well below the five-year average of $11.9 million.
Large scale emergencies included fires at Northern Lite Manufacturing, the Twisted Tomato restaurant, Mills Road apartments and Sign Chek Holdings.
Kelowna Fire Department firefighters responded to a level three activation assisting West Kelowna Fire Rescue during the Smith Creek fire last summer. That fire burned out 150 hectares of land and forced 2,900 people from their homes.
Besides its own dispatch communciations, the department handles emergency response dispatching for 28 fire departments in Kelowna, the Central Okanagan Regional District and the Okanagan Similkameen Regional District.
The report does not contain financial information, which is part of the larger City of Kelowna budget, expected to be formally adopted on Monday, May 4.
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