By Shelby Stewart
Brandon Twp.- The fire department responded to 1,323 calls in 2017, a new record for the department.
“When I started with the department in 1987, we responded to 314 calls,” said Brandon Fire Chief David Kwapis. “That’s a 400 percent increase.”
Kwapis gave his 2017 year end report to the township board on Monday night, with a breakdown of the types of calls they responded to, the majority of which are medical.
“Baby boomers are getting older,” said Kwapis. “Once we get through the baby boom stage, what we should see is a resurgence of calls, then later see a dip.”
Kwapis attributes the record number of calls, up from 1,232 in 2016, to the aging population in the village and township, since the large generation, commonly called the baby boomers, are now in their 60s and 70s.
“We’re only going to get busier plus people want to stay in their homes more,” he said. “That leads to an increase in calls for service.”
In addition to medical emergencies, the fire department responded to public assist calls, burn complains, downed power lines, structure fires and many more incidents. Most of the medical emergencies were traumatic injury, though a culmination of less frequent incidents compiled into ‘other’ outnumbered all of the traumatic injury at 255 other incidents.
For many of the medical incidents, given that the patient is stable and road conditions won’t delay treatment, the department will transport the patient to the hospital of their choice within reason.
“The furthest we’ll go is Detroit, Ann Arbor, Flint,” said Kwapis. “The one we transported to Ann Arbor with a hand injury is recovering well and that ended up being the right place for us to take him.”
Though the department is fielding more calls, the staff has not increased in quite a few years.
“The last time we increased staff, we were fielding half the number of calls,” he said.
Kwapis will be seeking the SAFER grant—Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response. The SAFER grant was created to provide funding directly to fire departments, like Brandon, to help them increase or maintain the number of trained, “front line” firefighters available in their communities.
The goal of SAFER is to enhance the local fire departments’ abilities to comply with staffing, response and operational standards established by the NFPA
In addition to responding to calls, the department provides EMS standby at all of the JV and Varsity football and soccer games, as well as the Junior Blackhawks football program and visited Brandon K-5 classrooms to teach about fire safety 2-3 times a year.
“We cover a little bit of everything, checking your smoke detector, escape plan, carbon monoxide detector, meeting place, during the holidays we try to cover Christmas tree safety,” said Kwapis. “In the spring we talk about watching out for electrical lines when flying kites, campfire safety, matches and lighters are tools, not toys. Wearing bike helmets and knee and elbow pads, videos, we teach a bit of everything.”
Kwapis emphasized that adults and children alike should know to check their smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, especially those with older parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and neighbors.
“Get the combination, change the batteries when they run out, and replace it every five years,” said Kwapis.
This past year the fire department also launched the ability to obtain a burn permit on their website at brandontownship.us/fire where residents can take the test to receive a burn permit and get one online without having to go to the station and fill out a test and form, making it easier than ever to get one for residents.