The Winkler Fire Department is on pace to have its busiest year for calls. Fire Chief Richard Paetzold said if the current trend continues, they will well surpass 200 calls by the end of the year.
At this point, Paetzold said they've received half the calls for technical rescue, and fire incidents are also at about 50 % compared to a year ago. Carbon monoxide calls, however, are up.
Paetzold said that's likely related to the cold weather this past winter. In fact, Paetzold said they've responded to quite a few weather-related calls this year. "Motor vehicle accidents, we are probably almost equal with our total amount from last year...nothing too serious for incidents, just again weather-related. And then false alarms, a normal amount for the year, so except the increase in motor vehicle accidents, and of them nothing serious to really report, it's just been more all around."
The rise in call volume is, however, mainly attributed to the city's growth, noted Paetzold.
Currently, the Winkler Fire Department has a sufficient number of members on its roster, but Paetzold said they need to think ahead. He said the department will likely begin the process of recruiting in 2023 in preparation for the anticipated need for more members in the next 3-5 years.
When you get to a higher volume of calls, Paetzold noted a challenge that accompanies the increased calls, is getting responders available to go," and an employers willingness to (have employees) respond to calls. So we did work on some things during the Covid era to work on some of those issues for the future," added Paetzold. "And we would probably be implementing those to try and ease the burden on the responders and the employers they work for."
Another drawback to the increase in calls, is the 'responder burnout,' added Paetzold. Offering an example of that, Paetzold said several weeks ago, the department received 4 calls in one night... "So we did four runs at night, and then the guys have to work in the day. So people are being woken up out of bed, have to go do their thing, and then try to grab one hour of sleep and try and be productive for their day job."