Fire department calls return to previous levels
By Lisa Brody
After a significant drop in calls for service in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bloomfield Township Fire Department saw an increase in the second half of 2021, returning to normal levels of calls, chief John LeRoy told the Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees as he submitted the department's 2021 annual report at their meeting on Monday, July 25.
“After a trying 2020, the Bloomfield Township Fire Department began to see a return to normal operations in 2021. The number of incidents began to climb back to those seen prior to the beginning of the pandemic. The number of EMS incidents increased as more people became more confident in seeking medical care at a hospital and not focusing on COVID. Unfortunately, 2021 still saw an elevated number of fires compared to the years prior to the pandemic. This can be attributed to more people still working from home and more residents completing building and remodeling projects during this time,” LeRoy said.
There were 6,381 calls for service in 2021, a return to 2019 levels, when there were 6,449 calls for service. In 2020, there were only 5,812 calls for service for fire, EMS/rescue, hazardous conditions, false alarms and service calls.
There are four fire stations in Bloomfield Township. All together in 2021, there were 88 fires in 2021; 3,495 EMS/rescue calls; 416 calls for hazardous conditions; 1,421 service calls; 488 calls for good intent; 434 false alarms; and 39 dispatch errors.
LeRoy reported that in 2021, firefighters completed over 12,000 hours training, which he said is still below pre-pandemic levels.
“Fire officer development accounted for over 2,200 hours of training in 2021, which is second to fire related training. This training is essential to prepare the future leaders of the fire department,” Matt DeRousse, assistant chief. “The Bloomfield Township Fire Department will experience a significant loss of leadership and experience in the next five years due to retirements, so it is imperative that officer development training continues to expand. Each year, at least one officer attends the Eastern Michigan University School of Fire Staff and Command. This management-oriented program consists of 350 hours of competency-based education spread over 10 months. The School of Fire Staff and Command targets those fire officers destined for senior leadership and prepares them with the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to manage their fire departments.”
LeRoy said Bloomfield Township is part of Oakways, a mutual aid partnership with several other departments in Oakland County. “In Bloomfield Township, we truly have a mutual aid partnership – we give aid as much as we receive,” he said.
As for trends the department is beginning to see is a rise in lithium battery fires in houses, cars and garbage trucks from increases in electric vehicles. “The issue is these fires burn so hot, they use a lot of water resources,” he said.
There have also been a lot more cooking fires, he said, with people working from home and involved in projects, as well as “a huge increase in motor vehicle accidents, due to speed, distracted driving and a lack of courtesy,” LeRoy said.