Fire department releases annual reportNov 30, 2020 03:29PM ● By Bill Hardesty
SSLFD continues to train for all occasions. (Courtesy of SSLFD)
By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]
At the Oct.14 South Salt Lake City Council meeting, Fire Chief Terry Addison presented the SSL Fire Department Annual Report. The last report was a decade ago.
The full report is available online at 2019-2020 Annual Report.
“I could not be more proud to serve the City of South Salt Lake and lead an incredible team of dedicated men and women. As we reflect on the accomplishments of this great group of people, no doubt, we are focused on what is yet to come for the SSLFD and the incredible community we serve,” Addison wrote in the report.
In January, Mayor Cherie Wood appointed Addison as fire chief. He commands 70 employees, of which 66 are suppression personnel (aka the folks who fight fires and answer medical calls). There are three fire stations for a city of 6.94 square miles and a population of 25,582 people.
Besides his fire department duties, Addison is a member of the city’s incident command and is the point person for the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even though the three stations are west of Main Street, SSLFD has a 5.7 minutes response time across the city. The time is measured from dispatch, getting dressed in their gear, and arriving on site. Calls to Station 42, which covers the west side of the city, have increased because of the Men’s Homeless Resource Center (HRC).
“The HRC has brought additional call volume to the department but, we have built a great relationship with management and staff to ensure all calls are handled with appropriate staff,” Addison said.
Another fact to keep in mind is that SSLFD is part of the Metro Fire Agency. Metro Fire was created in 2005 to allow better use of resources. Recently, a new GPS tracking system has come online. This system will allow the closest fire equipment to respond regardless of city boundaries. This new system allows for a quicker response time for emergencies.
Last year, the SSLFD budget was $8,023,900.
“I would like the public to know that our firefighters love this community. The men and women that make up the South Salt Lake Fire Department are true stewards for the community. They provide exceptional service and treat everyone as if they are members of their family,” Addison said.
Calls for service
For fire calls, a 2018/2019 comparison to 2019/2020 shows a small increase of 0.65% (1,069 calls compared to 1,076 calls). There were more residential fires in 2019/2020, increasing from 28 to 49 fires. False alarms are still a high number of 228 calls.
The medical call comparison shows a larger increase of 10.09% (4,525 calls compared to 5,033 calls). Each station showed an increase in medical calls. However, Station 43 (3620 S. West Temple) had the most significant gain from 596 to 1,280 calls.
“The call volume is related to district realignment that we tried due to 900 West opening further south. With the Men’s [Homeless] Resource Center opening up, we changed the district back to what it previously was. So, the call volume going forward now will be better distributed between our stations,” Addison said.
A further breakdown of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) shows that the sick person category accounted for the most calls at 14.59%, followed by traffic/transportation incidents at 11.72%. The third-highest service is psychiatric problems/abnormal behavior/suicide attempts at 9.02%. This number of calls shows that while there is a lot of talk about police officers needing the training to help in mental health cases, EMTs face the same challenge.
SSLFD accomplished 6,565 hours of fire-related training. The bulk of the hours were in fire training. Other training areas were fire prevention, hazardous material, leadership, and physical exercise.
For medical training, the SSLFD completed 4,056 hours. Medicine training took the most hours at 783 hours, closely followed by training associated with the American Herat Association at 763 hours. There were other training areas such as Patient Assessment, Trauma, Special Patient Populations, and EMS operations.
COVID-19 restrictions hampered much of the fire department’s outreach efforts. The report reads, “Through the year, firefighters ordinarily visit schools, businesses, and various health care and government facilities to provide education on fire prevention and life safety. COVID-19 abruptly stopped all public events. However, we will resume these activities when it is safe to do so.”
“We would love for the opportunity to reach back out and engage the community with fire prevention efforts, community education, and station tours,” Addison said.
Even with COVID-19, fire inspections continued. The SSLFD conducted 475 inspections and reviewed 548 building plans.