Aylmer fire calls down in 2020, property dollar loss at record high
Toronto Star
 

Though calls to Aylmer Fire Department hit a ten-year low in 2020, a few residential fires contributed to a record high property dollar loss from fire last year. As well, the public education normally done by the fire department was severely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

These are highlights from Fire Chief Sam Taylor’s 2020 annual report presented to Aylmer council on Monday, March 15.

General statistics

The property dollar loss from fire in 2020 was $555,750, overall higher than the 10-year average of $388,623 and considerably increased from $45,500 in 2019.

The fire department responded to 80 calls in 2020, below the 10-year average of 96 and less than 94 in 2019. The majority of calls were medical (21) and false fire alarms (18).

The average dispatch time, from a call received until paged, was 44 seconds. Average in-route time, when the page was received until firefighters left the station, was 5 minutes 24 seconds. The average response time, from the page received until firefighters arrived on the scene, was 8 min. 40 sec. The average time per call, starting from call received until back in service, was 57 min. 32 sec.

The department spent a total of 1,033 hours at incidents throughout 2020, with an average of 13 firefighters responding to each incident. The average number of firefighters responding Monday to Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. was 13.13, the highest in 10 years.

Alarm checks

The department checked 17 homes for working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO2) detectors during emergency responses in 2020. Out of the 17, 14 were found to be in compliance with Ontario Fire Code requirements for an overall compliance rate of 82%. This is slightly higher from the previous year’s rate of 76%.

“We contribute this to the increasing awareness of the requirement to have CO Alarms,” wrote Chief Taylor in his report.

Several of the non-compliant alarms were outdated and were sounding to notify the owner that they had expired. Each were loaned either smoke or carbon monoxide detectors, given new batteries for such devices, or directed to install the required alarms until they could occupy the residence.

“It’s a fact that working smoke alarms save lives, residents need to protect their families by having a working smoke alarm on every level of the home and outside all sleeping areas,” reminds the chief’s report.

Public education

According to the report, the fire department’s public education program was severely disrupted by the pandemic and the restrictions on gatherings.

Throughout 2020, there were eight fire safety plan reviews, 14 fire safety inspections, one fire drill observations, six consultations, seven site plan review meetings, five file searches for real estate, and zero joint inspections with the chief building official.

Generally, the department makes an effort to educate the public on fire safety through station tours, open houses, advertisements, sign board in front of the station, open houses, public displays, and online.

“We are investigating different methods of delivery in 2021 in order to continue public education and any restrictions we may be faced with,” wrote Chief Taylor.

Training

The department training program consists of 35 evening sessions. Firefighters learn incident command refresher training, first aid/CPR/defibrillator re-certification, aerial apparatus training, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1001 Level 1 and 11 refresher training.

“Due to COVID-19 restrictions most training sessions were conducted online,” wrote Chief Taylor.

Firefighters spent 972 total hours in training. The 2021 focus will work towards certification in pump operator, technical rescue, fire service instructor Level 1, hazardous materials awareness & core ops, firefighter Level 1 and 11 (Recruits), and fire & life safety educator.

Looking ahead

The next steps for the department include an increase of in site visits and facility tours by fire crews of new and expanded businesses, when COVID-19 framework levels permit. There will also be Epi-Pen training for staff, and the development of a Pre-Incident Plan to cover new and expanding industries.

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