Firefighters kept busy over holidays
By Sue Tiffin
Published Jan. 9, 2018
While many this holiday season were warm inside over the holidays, Haliburton firefighters were on call, responding to almost a dozen calls between Dec. 24 and 30.
“For us, generally ... we do one or two calls in that time frame,” said Mike Iles, Dysart et al fire chief. He said the 11 calls received over that period this year included car accidents, alarm calls, calls in which people were reporting smoke and medical calls, and one call took place on Christmas Day.
“It unfortunately drags firefighters away from families,” said Iles. “They don’t begrudge it, but it’s a special time for everyone so it certainly bites into their time over the holidays.”
The public served by the firefighters were appreciative of their efforts, especially in the case of a localized power outage on Dec. 28, when the temperature had dropped to -31°C (see letter to the editor, page 8). Firefighters had returned from attending a car accident at Kennisis Lake when a call came in about the power outage, which occurred on Park Street, because people were concerned about elderly residents in the area.
Iles said it wasn’t typical that firefighters would go door to door checking in on residents, like they did that night, but the extreme cold and concern from neighbours prompted the visits.
“Everyone was fine and said they were fine,” said Iles. “Everyone was aware and prepared but we just wanted to be certain that was the case.”
Firefighters were prepared to call for ambulances should anyone have been at risk, or to arrange for shelter if the power didn’t come on promptly.
In Highlands East, the holiday season was slightly less busy than usual, but Chris Baughman, acting fire chief, said the calls over the year changed on an annual basis.
“We always average between 240 to 300 calls a year,” he said. “One year it might be 240 and we think we’re doing good, then the next year we’re at 300. It’s not necessarily a downward trend or upward trend, it seems to vary each year.”
The Highlands East fire department usually attends about five calls over the period of Dec. 22 to Jan. 1, but this year responded to just two, which coincides with a lower-than-average number of calls over the fall season.
One was a medical assist call, and the other was a Boxing Day accident on South Wilberforce Road in which a 73-year-old man reversing a tractor down his driveway collided with a pick-up truck.
The man was airlifted to a Toronto hospital and the accident is under an ongoing investigation.
Baughman said the cold temperatures could result in an increased number of carbon monoxide calls, or calls related to heating devices inside the home.
He reminded homeowners to clear any outdoor vents that might get backed up with snow and cause carbon monoxide malfunction.