Fire alarms and rescue calls down in Aurora last year

by KEN LAHMERS | EDITOR Published:

by KEN LAHMERS | EDITOR

Aurora -- Fire alarms and rescue calls decreased in 2012, according to figures provided recently by the city's fire department.

Chief David Barnes reported that crews responded to 369 fire calls and 1,472 rescue calls, 55 fewer fire calls and 192 rescue calls than in 2011.

"A change in management at Independence Village resulted in a decrease of 96 EMS calls there and accounts for half of the reduction in total EMS calls," said Barnes.

In the last five years, the top year for rescue calls and fire alarms was 2011 (1,638 and 424, respectively).

Fire loss for the year was estimated at $125,400, mostly from two fires -- one at a house on Parker Road in February and one at a house on Crackel Road in May -- which both were determined to be accidental.

A woman died in the Parker Road fire. Fire Capt. Bill Lovel and police officers David Prislan, Joe Laperna and Andrew Lumpkins pulled the victim out of the house, but she later succumbed to her injuries and previous health problems. The rescuers were treated for varying levels of smoke inhalation.

Those two fires in Aurora were among 20 investigated last year by the Portage County Fire Investigation Unit, in which the Aurora department participates.

In the last five years, the top year for rescue calls and fire alarms was 2011 (1,638 and 424, respectively).

Among the major fire department projects for the year were refinishing the bay floors at Station 1 and developing specifications for and ordering a new pumper truck, which will arrive in mid-year 2013 and will replace a 1988 vehicle.

Funds for those projects came from the fire/paramedic levy, which was renewed by voters in May. In addition to equipment, it provides funding for five firefighters/paramedics.

MANY FIRE training activities took place, with focus on areas such as foam classifications, hazardous materials, ropes and knots, water rescues and boat operations, fire tactics, vehicle fires, firefighter air management, Aurora's water system and fire behavior in a single occupancy.

Some local firefighters are members of the Portage County water rescue team, and participated in training at area swimming pools, West Branch Reservoir and the Twin Lakes. Some firefighters also participate in the Portage County search and rescue team.

Dr. Marc Allen, a board certified emergency medicine physician, continued to be the department's medical director, and approved several new medical protocols that paramedics follow.

Education is a large part of the department's job, and it continues to provide instructors for businesses and schools.

In 2012, Lt. Matthew McBirney and Ed Grecol taught fire extinguisher classes to more than 600 local employees, and Mike Overholt certified more than 500 people in either Health Care Provider or Heartsaver AED techniques.

Firefighters also participate in many other activities, including hosting station tours for youngsters, driving trucks in the Memorial Day and July 4 parades and providing protection for the city's and Barrington Estates' July 4 fireworks.

They also participated in Truck Day at Aurora Farms Premium Outlets, the annual bike rodeo, Vehicle Day at Miller School, the Relay For Life, Portage County's None for Under 21 program and a department-sponsored bloodmobile on Christmas Eve.

"We remain committed to providing emergency medical and fire/rescue services, and will remain a productive component in the community through involvement and education," concluded Barnes.

Email: klahmers@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4189

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