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FD responses down dramatically in 2020

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The last six months have been the quietest in recent memory for the Dauphin Fire Department.
In a report to city council at its regular meeting, July 13, fire chief Cam Abrey said from Jan.1 to June 30, the department responded to 72 calls for service, a 34 per cent reduction from the previous year.
“Which going back through our call volume was the lowest that we could find in the same time period over the past 10 years,” Abrey said.
“And I'm sure if we went back further we would probably go 15 to 20 years since we’ve had that low of a response.”
Sixty-six of the responses fell within the city of Dauphin, five in the RM of Dauphin and there was one mutual aid response.
Twenty-six of the calls were for motor vehicle collisions and there were 17 false alarms, 10 kitchen fires, four outdoor fires, five structure fires, two vehicle fires, one carbon monoxide alarm and seven “other” responses for situations such as EMS assistance, hazardous material spills and rescue calls, Abrey said.
In terms of training this year, modifications to the program had to be made due to COVID-19 restrictions, Abrey said.
“We limited the amount of time that our firefighters spent on a Wednesday night together in one area to approximately five minutes. Just to do a bullpen review on the previous seven day’s calls, so that we can find out if all equipment is operating properly, if there was anything that we need to improve on,” he said, adding firefighters would then split into groups of 10 or less to complete training and equipment maintenance.
“Have some people in the classroom taking some theory-based training and then we would have some others that Dauphin Rec. Services allowed us to use their grounds over there for doing some side-by-side training with our UTV and getting everybody used to how to load and unload it properly, how to tie it down once it’s on the trailer so that we can ensure that we have safe travels with it.
“We were doing water shuttle operations and having some of our firefighters get familiar with the water tanker and how to establish a portable water source and then we had some other firefighters that were doing our annual hose testing on the floor on the apparatus base. So we were able to maintain those 10 or less rules and keep everybody separated while still training to serve our citizens.”
Level 1 and 2 firefighter training continued with an original class size of 12, Abrey said. The pandemic resulted in the cancellation of exams this spring, but when restrictions were lifted in mid-June, 10 firefighters - two from Dauphin, one from Ochre River and one from Gilbert Plains in the Level 1 program and six from Dauphin in the Level 2 program - travelled to the Manitoba Emergency Services College in Brandon for their practical exam, June 20.
“I’m happy to say that nine of the 10 were successful on that first Saturday and the one from Gilbert Plains had to go back for his retest the following week, but he was successful,” Abrey said.
“That first weekend had a 70 per cent failure rate out of the 80 students that were tested, so we’re very fortunate that our firefighters were so successful and know their skills. So kudos to them on a job well done.”
Planning is now underway to begin the 2020-21 training program in September, Abrey added.
“We’ve already had interest from some outside departments within our mutual aid district, specifically Gilbert Plains, Ochre River and Sifton where they’re interested in sending their firefighters for Level 1 training. As well, we’re going to have three of our current members of DFD start into the new Level 1,” he said.
Abrey also updated councillors on a new equipment purchase, a 2017 Ford F150 that serve a variety of functions within the department.
“It’ll be a command post for the majority of the incidents,” Abrey said, adding a laptop with software capable of monitoring the department’s self-contained breathing apparatus and tracking each individual firefighter will be mounted permanently in the cab.
“So in baby steps we’re getting better and better all the time. Besides just being a command vehicle, it’ll also be used to haul equipment and personnel to and from incidents. We can use it now to haul the various trailers that we have. As you know we have two water rescue boats an enclosed trailer for a technical rescue equipment, the public education trailer that belongs to the mutual aid district and the list can go on. So it’ll also be used on a day-to-day basis for the fire and life safety inspections and public education opportunities that we participate in.”
Abrey added the truck still has to go to Winnipeg for approximately a week for the installation of lighting and a radio system.
“It is a preused unit, but in very good condition with still a year of warranty left on it. And even with the additional equipment of the decals, lights, siren, radio included, we expect the total cost will be well below the budgeted amount that we had within our capital plan,” he said.