Stillwater fire calls down slightly in 2013, medical calls went up slightly

In 2013 The Stillwater Fire Department experienced fewer calls than 2012 but has had an increase in calls during the first quarter of this winter.

Fire Chief Stu Glaser presented the annual fire department report at the April 1 city council work session. Last year overall calls decreased by 3 percent, from 1,754 to 1,701.

“We’ve had a 12-13 percent increase in this first quarter of 2014 from last year though,” Glaser said. “There’s been an increase in motor vehicle accidents, an increase in natural gas leaks and carbon monoxide calls, and lots of power line issues. They’re mainly weather-type responses, which makes up a little bit of that difference.”

Glaser said that about 84 percent of the calls in 2013 were made in Stillwater, 7 percent in Stillwater Township and 4 percent in Grant and May Township.

“We’ve been pretty consistent in having about 21 calls a year to our surrounding partners, like Lake Elmo, Hugo and others,” Glaser said. “I suspect that the call volume will increase as we develop the gateway trail and the bridge is completed. I suspect we will have more traffic from the current motel being considered and additional people downtown now with our special events coming back. We’ll see how this will work through the summer with Log Jam.”

Glaser also reported that emergency medical calls for the department rose slightly, with 1,433 in 2013, compared to 1,395 in 2012.

“There hasn’t been a lot of increase on our EMS side, and we continue to work with Lakeview EMS,” Glaser said. “They’ve taken 2,378 calls in our district. The fire department has been on 1,030 of those calls.”

The fire department is usually requested when a life-threatening medical emergency occurs and additional emergency medical treatment and support is required. The EMS portion of the calls has beaten out most other types of calls for the past three years.

The $1.3 million budget for the fire department is 11 percent of the city budget total. Contracts for services that the department works with bring in about $300,000, according to Glaser. Permit and code enforcement revenue stands at $2,602, and training reimbursement comes from federal, state and county grants at $19,171 for a total revenue of $332,091.04.

The department, like others in surrounding areas, continues to struggle with maintaining paid on-call firefighters, and Glaser said that he and other fire chiefs throughout the state continue to work to find solutions to the problem. On average Glaser said three paid on-call officers are hired each year, and the department is currently six short of the 30 it strives to maintain. Glaser said that state legislation to give a $500 tax credit to paid on-call firefighters is currently working its way through the Legislature.

Contact Avery Cropp at [email protected]