By Stan Welch
The Piedmont Fire Department passed a milestone in 2017, but it wasn’t one that they especially cared to achieve. For the first time in their history, the department answered more than one thousand calls.
The department actually responded to 1018 calls in 2017. Ninety eight of those calls were for structure fires. Chief Tracy Wallace said that the cold temperatures and winter weather in the last few weeks of the year contributed to that number. “We have some folks heating with inadequate, inefficient, or just plain unsafe devices. That is made worse by using the different heat sources for longer times due to the cold. Space heaters can get knocked over, or run too long in proximity to flammable materials. The next thing you know there’s a house fire.”
Amazingly, despite almost a hundred structure fires, there wasn’t a single fire related fatality because of those fires. Wallace attributes that in large part to an extensive, aggressive smoke detector program. “We gave away a lot of smoke detectors this year, and they have paid off for us and the public. We will even install them for those who can’t do it themselves. No fatalities out of almost a hundred fires is really amazing. “
By far the largest percentage of the calls the department answers are medical calls. The department is unusual in that it serves two counties – Anderson and Greenville. As a result, they often receive medical response calls from the EMS units in those two counties that are farther away than they are. “We get calls from EMS to respond first, while their units are en route. We have first medical response personnel who can do CPR and basic first aid. We also have automatic external defibrillator units on the trucks. We can handle basic situations and assess cases. We can usually manage the scenario until an EMS unit arrives.”
Last year, five hundred and seventeen medical calls came in, or just over half of the total calls received. There were also seventy three grass or brush fires; thirteen vehicle fires; a hundred sixteen motor vehicle accidents, nineteen electrical issues; four hazmat situations; and eighteen mutual aid calls where they assisted other departments.
The department also responded to one hundred and sixty service calls. Those range from people who have locked their keys in the car, or have water leaks in their homes; or who have fallen and can’t get up. “Everybody jokes about those commercials, but it happens to elderly people more often than you might think,” said the Chief. Sometimes we have to force entry into the home. Sometimes, they need to be transported to a medical facility; most often they don’t. They just need some assistance. We’re happy to provide it.’
Chief Wallace said that as busy as his department was last year, there is no sign of things slowing down. “Based on our January stats in 2018 so far, we are on a pace to answer more than twelve hundred calls this year.”
By Stan Welch