Avon Lake

The Avon Lake Fire Department responded to 35 fire calls in 2013, the lowest number of fires it’s seen in a decade.

The department’s newly released 2013 annual report shows calls overall dropped for the department, going against the trend of increasing calls for service over recent years. The department received a total of 2,009 calls for service, a 5-percent drop from 2012, the report noted.

“The decrease in call volume, and especially the decrease in fire emergencies, mean that Avon Lake was a safer place in 2013,” fire Chief Chris Huerner wrote in his section of the report.

In an interview, Huerner credited the department’s fire prevention bureau in educating students and other community members about fire safety for the lower number of fires in 2013. The business inspections have also made the city safer, he said.

The number of paramedic calls decreased from 2012 to 2013, as well. The department’s firefighter-paramedics responded to 1,476 rescue and EMS calls in 2012, according to a past report, but the call volume dropped about 4 percent to 1,416 in 2013. Numbers from the 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 reports show an overall increase in call volume for paramedic services from 1,390 to 1,364 to 1,443 to 1,476.

The calls for service should begin to level off because the community is almost completely built out, Huerner said in an interview, so the population won’t increase much more. Even when the level off, he said, the paramedic call numbers will go up and down from year to year.

The low number of fire calls could not have come at a better time for the department, as its ladder truck is still out for refurbishment. The company refurbishing the truck, Kovatch Mobile Equipment Corp. (KME), expects to finish the work and return the truck by March. The company has been paying a $500 per business day penalty since Oct. 1, 2013.

Huerner inspected the progress last week, and he said it looks to be about 90 percent done. The company has ordered a part for the truck, he said, and that should take about two weeks to arrive, so the current estimate is about three or four weeks until its complete.

While the truck has been out for refurbishment, the city of Avon has provided its ladder truck through mutual aid for any fire calls in Avon Lake. Avon typically sends an regular engine to any Avon Lake fire call anyway as part of mutual aid, he said, as no city has enough resources to fight a fire on its own.

The report also outlined the completed transition of the fire department’s dispatch operations to Lorain County 911. The transition provided the department with a new public address system for the fire station, a new station alerting system that connects through radio to the county dispatch center, mobile data terminals in all department emergency vehicles, wireless access points and electronic fire and EMS reporting systems. All of the equipment has been installed and is operational, the report noted.

Along with new equipment, the move to the central dispatch operation has freed up a firefighter-paramedic who would otherwise stay at the station during an emergency call when the secretary-dispatcher is off-duty. Having the additional firefighter available means more immediate manpower when responding to a fire call, he said.

Contact Bryan Wroten at bwroten@2presspapers.com and @BryanWroten

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