By RICK HAYES
MT. VERNON — —
Jefferson Fire Protection District responded to a record number 1,072 calls for fires, medical emergencies and motor vehicle accidents in 2012.
The increase represents 145 calls more than the previous record of 927 established a year ago, according to department officials.
“The number of calls have definitely been up. It’s been a busy year for the Jefferson Fire District,” said Capt. Ryan Clinton. “We’ve been able to handle all the calls received with assistance from other agencies.”
JFPD had 28 structure fires in 2012, resulting in $1,658,735 in damages. The department reported five other fires, resulting in losses of $2,500.
There were two civilian injuries due to structure fires, and of the 13 passenger car fires, one injury was reported.
Major fires the department handled in 2012 included the Mike Herzing residence, considered a total loss. That structure fire resulted in $800,000 in damages.
The department also responded to a two-story residential fire on Dec. 7 at the home of James Bayer at 365 W. Helkin Dr., in Bonnie. The home was destroyed in the fire, but Bayer was able to escape injury by crawling through a bedroom window, reports state.
During the summer months, the department responded to a barn fire on Sparrow Lane, on property owned by Rick Lacey, in which hay and farm equipment were destroyed.
The department also responded to a number of fires in a short period of time in the Bonnie area that were suspect in nature. A Bonnie man was eventually arrested and charged with arson for intentionally setting those blazes.
JFPD also saw an increase in the number of medical-related calls in 2012. According to Clinton, the department handled 547 medical calls — up from the 513 calls received a year ago.
“With more elderly people in the community, it always results in additional calls. The additional medical calls seems to be a trend,” Clinton reasoned. “A lot of people have been sick.”
JFPD, which serves more than 200 square miles in Jefferson County, responded to 61 motor vehicle accidents in 2012, resulting in 42 injuries. Eight of those injuries resulted in the department having to use extraction equipment. The department responded to 79 Emergency Medical Service calls, excluding motor vehicle accidents.
There were nearly 70 outdoor fires, including brush, grass and rubbish fires, which compares to 61 from 2011.
“This year, even with the dry conditions, we didn’t have too bad a field fire season,” Clinton said. “It didn’t seem like we had as many field fires this year as we’ve had in the past.”
There were no fire fatalities in the county this past year and no fire personnel related injuries, department officials noted.