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South Boston fire calls increase in 2012

Emergency medical service calls (EMS) leveled out, but fire calls increased in 2012 over the previous year, South Boston Fire Chief Steve Phillips told South Boston Town Council at Monday’s work session.

South Boston Fire and EMS responded to a total of 2,041 calls in 2012, compared to 2,015 the previous year.

His department responded to 65 total fire calls in 2012, an increase of about 26 over 2011, the chief continued.

That total includes 16 building fires in and out of town, 11 cooking fires and eight vehicle fires.

Not included in those totals were fire trucks responding to fire alarms and wrecks.

Fire-related calls increased from 281 to 327 incidents, Phillips added.

Fire vehicles do not normally respond to auto wrecks unless oil, fuel of fluid leaks have been detected, or a car is smoking, Phillips explained.

EMS calls leveled off last year, Phillips added, decreasing from 1,734 to 1,714.

A total of 1,608 of those calls were for medical assistance, ranging from seemingly minor issues to a heart attack or stroke, both in town and outside town, Phillips said.

“The system is abused somewhat, but most everybody knows that,” Phillips commented. 

“Surely, it’s an emergency to them, but it ties up an ambulance,” explained Phillips, one that can be used to answer a call for a stroke or heart attack.

An increasing number of motor vehicle crashes with injuries were reported in 2012 compared to 2011, Phillips noted, from 69 to 95, while EMS personnel responded to 11 motor vehicle crashes with no injuries in 2012.

There were 90 false call incidents last year, according to the fire chief, who explained false calls are recorded whenever there is a fire alarm or sprinkler issue that is not associated with an emergency incident.

Also included are responses that indicate there was a failure to call dispatch during a fire drill test, a manual pull of the alarm system without reason or an unfounded event, according to Phillips’ report.

Phillips noted a number of false alarms called in via cell phone by concerned citizens while driving.

Sometimes stopping and investigating further may result in fewer such false alarms, according to Phillips, who added those types of calls have been decreasing.

“We talk with kids groups, we talk with adult groups, and we try to get the message out to as many people as we can about fire safety and fire prevention,” said Phillips.

“All of those things go together to educate the general public on what to do in case of fire. Every hour you put into it is very important, because even if it saves one life it’s worth all the hours and all the time you put into it.

“You hope they remember something as they go through life that will help them if they do experience a fire. Of course, we hope that never happens, but we also know people do experience fires, so we reach out with fire safety to as many people as we can.”


Fire official report positive

South Boston Deputy Chief and Fire Inspector Dwight Spangler told council he had conducted 38 inspections at several locations throughout the town in 2012, with a total of 139 violations cited.

All violations have been corrected, and there are no inspections from 2012 still in the follow-up phase, according to Spangler, who told council he allows 30 days for violations to be corrected.

That helps explain the fact there are no outstanding violations, Spangler explained.

“That’s time enough to take care of problems internally,” said Spangler.

“I try to work with them,” continued Spangler, who is working with individual business owners on fire safety and fire evacuation plans.

“I’m focusing on fire safety,” said Spangler.  “I’m talking with managers and employees about a working plan in case of fire and trying to train them on how to react.”

“I really think you have right much to be proud of,” said Councilman Bob Hughes. “I think as a community we certainly owe you a debt of gratitude in the jobs you perform, and the willingness to do the things you do with youth and others and the impact it’s having on this community.”