Port Moody firefighters less busy during pandemic
Times Colonist

Call volumes are down significantly for Port Moody Fire Rescue since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, accelerating a downward trend for the department over the past four years.

Fire Chief Ron Coulson told city council May 26 his crews responded to 1,312 incidents in 2019, 43 fewer than the year before and more than 200 less than in 2016.

Of those: 671 were medical calls, 13 of them life-saving interventions; 327 were responses to fires and alarms; 102 were calls to motor vehicle incidents and 32 involved hazardous materials.

While Coulson didn’t provide specific numbers, he said the decline in calls the past two months is directly related to provincially-mandated changes in critical response protocols. Those changes mean firefighters aren’t responding to any medical calls but the most serious, life-threatening incidents to reduce the risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus and conserve personal protective equipment.

But, he later told The Tri-City News, it’s also been a lot quieter with less traffic on the roads to get into accidents, and with sports activities on hold there hasn’t been a need to attend to injury calls at fields and arenas.

“It’s all a direct result in a commitment from the community to look after themselves,” he said, adding paramedic calls and visits to hospital emergency rooms have experienced similar slowdowns.

Coulson said one area that hasn’t slowed down, though, is the opiod crisis. He said his department responded to more overdose calls in March and April than in the previous 12 months.

“Unfortunately, we’re trending in the wrong direction there.”

Coulson said his department’s firefighters haven’t been idle during the COVID-19 slowdown as they’ve turned their energy to increased training, evaluation and operational testing. He added that includes training on one of two new trucks the department expects to put into service this year. 

The other, a tower truck that will help firefighters battle blazes at high-rise structures, is currently having some deficiencies addressed by the dealer before it’s delivered “in the next few weeks,” according to Coulson.

“It has to be absolutely flawless when it gets here,” he said.


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