Record Service Calls for Fergus Falls, Minn., Fire Department

While the number of firefighting calls answered is averaging about three a month, the other types of calls they handle have increased. They’ve answered 22 rescue and emergency medical calls as opposed to 18 for all of 2018.

by Brian Hansel, Fergus Falls Daily Journal, Minn. / August 9, 2019

(TNS) — Ryan Muchow expects his firefighters to set a new record in calls for service before the year is out.

“We envisioned there would be some uptick in responses as we continued to grow in the fire service,” the Fergus Falls fire chief said. “We want to be a little more proactive in our responses and have the dispatch center page us out. If the ambulance goes to a rollover because there are injuries that the fire department is paged out as well.”

As of Aug. 7 the fire department had answered 203 calls. By the end of the year Muchow is anticipating it being in the 300 range.

The previous high was 260 calls for service.

While the number of firefighting calls they have answered is averaging just over three a month, the other types of calls they handle have seen increases. They have answered 22 rescue and emergency medical calls as opposed to 18 for all of 2018. They have been out on 37 hazardous-condition calls already compared with 39 in all of 2018. Service calls are up to 20 after 18 in 2018. They are averaging almost seven alarms a month compared to six last year. Due to some heavy weather that hit Fergus Falls in July they have already been paged to eight severe-weather calls. Last year they were paged out on only one severe weather call.

“We have a trending upward of the rescue category but I don’t know if I’d call it a spike but it’s just more of each one,” Muchow said.

There are presently three full-time firefighters in the department with another 42 paid on call. Balancing the load being put on his men is important to Muchow because it is important for the morale of his firefighters. Many have families and like many fathers, their families come first with them.

If severe weather is predicted the Fergus Falls Fire Department wants to be ready.

“Our staffing model has changed a little bit in the last year and a half,” Muchow said. “We page in a smaller group, we call it a duty crew.

They will come in and staff the station so that if something happens they are here. This summer we have done it twice. The storm we had in June resulted in six or seven calls immediately following the storm. In this last go around we had 15 or 16 calls for service that came in within two hours.”

From the perspective of a fire chief, Muchow considers Fergus Falls to be a pretty safe place. There are some older homes in the city and there are hazards that naturally go along with them. Fire inspections of city businesses are in place to make sure the trend in significant fires continues to spiral downward.

“Overall we do feel the community takes a pretty proactive approach,” Muchow said.

Accidents on the highway and freeway are another type of emergency. While law enforcement and ambulance personnel are commonly called out the number of roadside-accident calls the fire department is paged out for is also growing.

Muchow said his firemen are finding it better to be in motion when an accident call comes in rather than waiting for police or ambulance personnel to call for their help in a roadside crash.

“The other area we are growing in is for us to be that response partner, between us and the police department, Ringdahl Ambulance and county Emergency Management,” Muchow said. “For us to all blend together.”

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©2019 the Fergus Falls Daily Journal (Fergus Falls, Minn.)

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