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Kingsport sees fewer fires, extends no fire fatality streak to five years

June 2nd, 2013 8:40 am by Matthew Lane

Kingsport sees fewer fires, extends no fire fatality streak to five years

KINGSPORT — Kingsport marked its fifth year without suffering a fire-related death, saw a reduction in the number of structure fires and vehicles fires and a drop in the amount of loss caused by fires, according to a recent report from the Kingsport Fire Department.

The KFD recently issued its 2012 yearly report, which gives a breakdown on the types and number of incidents firefighters responded to last year and how those numbers have changed since 2011. The report also gives a brief history of the department, the highlights and major accomplishments from the previous year along with the short-term and long-term goals of the department.

According to the report, the KFD responded to 8,038 calls in 2012, up 3.5 percent from the previous year’s 7,765 incidents. The lion’s share of those calls were medical calls, which rose from 5,848 in 2011 to 6,072 in 2012.

“The trend is those numbers have been going up on a yearly basis,” said Assistant Chief Scott Boyd. “We’ve seen a 300 percent increase over the past 20 years in medical calls alone.” 

While the overall increase in call volume can probably be attributed to annexation and an aging population, Boyd said there’s also been a shift in the type of calls the KFD runs. Two years ago, firefighters responded to 71 structure fires, in 2011 the number dropped to 52; in 2012 the number went to 48.

Structure fires include residential, vacant buildings, commercial, industrial, restaurants and garages, with the bulk occurring during the winter months, from November through February, when “folks kick on their heaters,” Boyd said.

The estimated total loss from the 48 structure fires that took place in Kingsport last year is $403,770. Boyd said he doesn’t remember any of the structure fires being of a “total loss” nature.

Forty-three vehicle fires took place in 2012 with an estimated loss of $133,525.

“A majority are from a lack of maintenance,” Boyd said. “Less than half a dozen vehicle fires we did an investigation or there was suspicious-type activity. Most are accidental or a maintenance issue with the vehicle.” 

The overall dollar loss from structure and vehicle fires amounts to $537,295, down from the $759,720 reported in 2011. In 2008, the total amount came to $1.67 million and in 2009 the figure was $3.39 million.

No firefighters were seriously injured or killed during the year and Kingsport marked its fifth straight year without a fire-related death.

“Awareness is definitely part of that,” Boyd said. “Five years ago we did not have someone on full-time public education, so I’d like to say we’re seeing some of the fruits of our labor there.” 

Kingsport firefighters also responded to 45 outside fires, 46 brush fires, 131 hazardous condition calls, 506 false alarms and over 1,000 service and good intent calls. The Kingsport Fire Department’s response time is 4:49.

Kingsport’s Fire Marshal’s Office, charged with conducting  safety inspections, education programs, reviews of fire safety plans and fire cause investigations, conducted 3,845 inspections and made 3,293 corrective recommendations. Eighteen fire scenes were investigated by the office in 2012.

Highlights from the previous year include the opening of Fire Station 8, receiving two new fire engines and hiring three new firefighters for the new station. Goals for the coming years include locating a site in the Fall Creek area for Fire Station 9, preparing for a second ladder company, completing the new fire training ground and upgrading the 800 megahertz communication system.

As of December 2012, KFD has 112 personnel, 50 of whom are licensed paramedics, 58 licensed EMTs and two first responders.


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