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Smithers Fire Rescue sees large spike in calls, labour hours in July

Fire Chief Derek Dickson says there are many reasons for the increase
Town of Smithers Fire-Rescue Department. (Thom Barker photo)

There was a significant increase in fire service calls and firefighter labour hours in Smithers during the month of July.

The Municipal Markers for July 2023 show a large increase in both calls to Smithers Fire Rescue and hours used by the station. The ongoing wildfire situation contributed, but the fire service said there are other factors at play as well.

Fire Chief Derek Dickson said the July statistics are not solely tied to the provincial wildfire situation and are merely reflective of a higher-than-average amount of calls across the regular response categories, both within the town boundaries and the rural response area in the regional district.

“On average, our monthly call volume for these calls in 2023 was 28,” he said. “July was 66.”

According to Dickson, the other response categories aside from wildfires are medical aid, structure fires, motor vehicle accidents, hazmat, airport emergencies, alarms ringing, burning complaints, and more.

“However, over and above these standard incidents, several of our crew members did respond to 13 provincial requests for wildfire support and amassed an overall total of 3,417 labour hours from May to September,” Dickson added.

The 66 calls in July are by far the most in 2023, with the previous high being 40 in May. The number of hours for July is also the most, reaching almost 800 while the previous high was set in April with just over 550.

“Our crews continue to be extraordinary in their commitment and dedication to the Town of Smithers and to the needs of our neighbours, both locally and provincially,” Dickson said.

“In several cases, the teams we assembled to deploy provincially were a blend of firefighters from The Town of Smithers, The Village of Telkwa, The Town of Houston and First Nations Emergency Services Society.”

Dickson goes on to explain that this collaborative approach helps to maintain appropriate numbers of firefighters within each community for continued local responses.