DAVENPORT, Iowa — The Davenport Fire Department responded to 19,688 calls for service in 2022, which is a 9.79% increase from 2021.
Davenport Fire Chief Mike Carlsten said an annual increase is typical as the local population grows, but this high of an increase is unusual. Usually, increases are at about 5%.
"When you take a look at the percentage of calls and how they break down compared to EMS and fire and other rescues that we do, the percentages are all about the same, it's just the overall volume has increased," Carlsten told News 8's Jonathan Fong. "As for a reasons, I really don't have a good reason that we've been able to pinpoint yet. Some of the things that we're kind of seeing are normal life activity returning after COVID."
To keep up with the increased calls, Davenport FD has increased its hiring. Carlsten said while older firefighters have been retiring, the department has been able to bring on a dozen new firefighters in 2022.
"Where we used to have firefighters that would stay with Davenport Fire for their whole career, now they may choose to go somewhere else — working at another fire department, for family reasons or they may actually just choose other career," Carlsten said. "The workforce is evolving and the fire departments are trying to evolve with that workforce."
However, with this increase and another possible for 2023, the department needs more than just recruiting staff and extra training to answer these calls — they need equipment and a facility.
The department has been working on improving services and equipment for a while. In 2022 the department ordered another 100-foot aerial replacement for one of their trucks as well as another pumper.
The department is also getting a new ladder truck in February 2023 and a new fire engine in 2024. Supply chain issues have impacted these improvements.
"We're still continuing to move forward," Carlsten said. "And we appreciate the support from the city administration and elected officials and our citizens that were able to invest in our community."
Carlsten said that the department is still able to keep up with the demand for calls.
"We're always keeping an eye on it, which is why we kind of keep track of those statistics to make sure that we can be able to respond whenever someone calls 911," he said.
The department will be able to keep up with demand with the new Fire Station Three being built near Brady Street and Welcome Way.
"Our goal is to open that station up by the end of 2023," Carlsten said. "The nice thing about that is, with that new station, it will allow easier access for our firefighters to some of the major thoroughfares so that they can get to this a little bit quicker. As our city continues to grow to the north, we actually are able to put more resources to cover that territory."
The annual report on calls for service for 2022 has yet to be released.
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