The Albion Fire Department answered 24 calls in December, bringing the total of runs during 2010 up to 435 – an average of 1.2 calls every day for the mostly volunteer department. The number was inflated a bit last year by a busy autumn wildfire season, thanks to unusually dry weather.
Tim Lock, presenting his first report as Fire Chief, gave the run summary and a list of department goals at the January 25 Albion Town Council meeting. The goals are divided into short and long term projects, but for the coming year include replacing a fire engine, updating fire preplans and training, and investigating the possibility of establishing a fire territory.
The truck that needs replaced is a 1988 pumper that at the time of purchase was the first brand new Albion fire truck since 1976, and saw heavy use in its earlier years. It’s currently the second fire engine out the door for rural structure fires, and the first to accompany a brush truck on wildland fires. The Council gave its blessing at the meeting to the formation of a committee of firefighters to plan the best replacement truck.
Lock also detailed in his report where the AFD responded to in 2010. The largest number of calls, perhaps not surprisingly, was in the town and township of Albion itself, at 227. However, that number is artificially inflated because weather watches, most fire standbys, and many service calls were counted as being in Albion even if they included services to the AFD’s entire 96 square mile response area. Albion is also the location of the response area’s only retirement home – however, first responder calls to that facility were few due to a trained staff already being on duty there.
The next highest number of calls was to Jefferson Township, at 65, followed by York Township at 46. After that came Green, 33; and Elkhart, 15.
Mutual aid responses outside the AFD’s coverage area included the townships of Allen, 2; Noble, 13; Orange, 13; Perry, 2; Sparta, 7; Swan, 1; and Wayne, 11.
Future goals, including five and ten to fifteen periods, include replacing one of the department’s brush trucks, and eventually the smaller of the two water tankers. Supplementing equipment and training resources, and eventually hiring a full of part-time Chief, are also on the list.
The Albion Fire Department consists of about three dozen male and female firefighters manning three engines, two tankers, two brush/first responder trucks, a heavy rescue truck, a boat, and ice and water rescue equipment, along with a safety trailer used for fire prevention. Although the volunteers receive some compensation for time, fuel, and clothing, the only paid position is a part-time driver/first responder job on weekday mornings.