Green Valley Fire District reports 2015 as its busiest year yet by a long shot for the second year running, clocking more than 10,500 calls — nearly 900 more than 2014.
And 2014 showed a gain of nearly 800 over the district’s previous high of 8,839 in 2012. Year-to-year call tallies have climbed steadily with the exception of 2009-11, when they leveled off in the 8,200 range, according to figures presented at last week’s district board meeting.
What’s going on? Officials aren’t sure but venture that it may be an indication of more residents staying year-round.
“Also, the population of the U.S. is aging,” GVFD Operations Chief Joey Kosiorowski said. “The tough thing with our calls is usually there is no explanation, unless a new development opens or we annex a big portion of land – neither of these happened.”
In 2015, month-by-month figures defied the norm, where the busiest months usually are January, February and sometimes March as flu hit, Kosiorowski said. But March through May were higher than typical, with April peaking at 1,068 calls, whereas January logged 723 and February, 713. March had more than 1,000, and May, 966.
It’s out of the ordinary and somewhat baffling.
“I am confused as to why April is so busy,” Kosiorowski said.
It’s too early to determine whether January has 2016 headed in the same direction.
Medical-related calls continue to far dominate the types of calls the district receives, as is representative of most fire departments nationwide, Kosiorowski said. That is, more than half are rescue and emergency medical service; 43 percent, service calls to assist invalids, help remove potentially dangerous snakes/pests, and tend to smoke alarm problems not addressed through the district’s volunteer Fire Corps; and about 1 percent are fire-related. The remaining calls involve false alarms/calls, hazardous conditions not involving fire, and good-intent calls.
In December, Green Valley responded to three fire calls, two involving structures and one, a vehicle. Seasonal climate seems to have little impact on the types of medical issues seen at certain times of the year, Kosiorowski said. However, sometimes power surges during summer lightning storms prompt more of that type of call in the monsoon season.
This year’s December call tallies compared with 2014’s shows Station 153 at Continental Road and Abrego Drive still the busiest of the district’s five stations, with 202 calls this year. That’s followed by Station 151 on La Cañada Drive near Esperanza Boulevard (171 calls); Station 154 at the same location (151 calls); Station 152 at Camino del Sol and Camino Encanto (112 calls; and Station 155 on Campbell Avenue near Quail Crossing Boulevard (94 calls). The statistics note that not all calls are separate, as some incidents require response from more than one unit.
April was also 2014’s busiest month, that when many part-year visitors usually head for home out of state. That year’s slowest day hit in February, usually the peak of high season for visitors and guests. Because that year was also out of the norm, district officials still aren’t sure what’s prompted those spikes and dips.
The economy may also be a factor; district officials are hopeful that tallies from coming months and years will provide answers.
The call increases alone haven’t resulted in staff additions; the opening of Station 155 in 2010 to serve a growing part of town called for an additional nine firefighters, bringing the district’s full staff to 60. In 2014, the district realigned staff and assigned peak-demand coverage between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., however, that unit isn’t in service at the moment due to recent staff retirements.
Officials are waiting to hire replacements until they determine how many will be needed, and will probably be deciding within the next couple of months, Kosiorowski said.
Kitty Bottemiller | 547-9732