COVID cost township fire department revenue
By Lisa Brody
Bloomfield Township Fire Chief John LeRoy informed the board of trustees at their meeting on Monday, May 24, that the COVID-19 pandemic reduced the numbers of calls, transports and traffic accidents while increasing the number of home renovation and cooking fires, and the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) monitored and updated all PPE and documentation requests from the county and state.
“2020 was a very trying year,” LeRoy said, noting the first two months of the year the department initially experienced significantly higher calls for service. “Then with COVID, calls decreased. Everything decreased.”
They received 11 percent less calls for service – 5,812 incidents, down from 6,449 in 2019. “Up to this point, we had been 10 years without a decrease,” LeRoy said. “The first two months of the year, we were up 20 percent. Then came March – we didn't have another month that came close to that until April of this year.”
He reported that EMS transports were down 60 transports, with COVID the direct result. “People were afraid, and they stayed home,” he said. “They called, but they didn't want to go to the hospital. The revenue from transports just dropped off.”
Fire Department revenue from transports decreased about $250,000 in transport dollars from what had been budgeted.
He reported there were 30 percent less traffic accidents from previous years; a sharp decrease in the number of fire alarms, because people were home.
There were COVID-related increases. He said there was a 67 percent increase in CPR, and an 8 percent increase in critical EMS patients. “People were dying in their homes, often of COVID. They were waiting too long to get help,” he said.
There was a 62 percent increase in the total number of fires, and a 46 percent increase in the number of structure fires. “As COVID progressed during the year, so did the number of home projects, home renovation fires and cooking fires. There were also a number of fireplace fires, usually from improper ash disposal.”
Throughout the period, LeRoy said, personnel kept their training up.
On February 24, two weeks before the first COVID cases were reported, Bloomfield Township opened the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) for police and fire, and a state of emergency was declared on March 10. “It's still open, we're still monitoring conditions, submitting updates and PPE (personal protection equipment) requests to the state of Michigan and Oakland County,” LeRoy reported. “We processed and secured all the PPE during the pandemic, provided all documentation and submitted it to FEMA and the state of Michigan, and developed operational policies to meet the state of Michigan's requirements.
“To date we've received $1 million in submitted reimbursements from the county and federal government,” he said.