If you noticed fire trucks out and about more often in Steinbach last year, that is because they were.
Steinbach Fire Chief Kel Toews says his crews responded to 312 calls in 2022, up from 291 one year earlier. Toews says he is not surprised, noting for the last four or five years they have been fairly steady at around 300 calls and notes they were due for this increase.
When breaking down the nature of the calls, nearly one-third of them last year were for general alarms. There were 101 such calls, up from 77 in 2021.
"That's quite a sizeable increase," he points out.
Yet, considering the growth of the city, Toews says the new houses and buildings have alarm systems and so he expected to see that number rise.
"Around 25 per cent increase is a little bit much, but we do expect a little bit of an increase with the growth we have," he notes.
Toews says when these alarms end up being false, it needlessly costs the city. He notes when you factor in firefighter wages, plus wear and tear on vehicles, an average call of any nature costs the city approximately $1,000. In 2022, Steinbach passed a burn bylaw that gives authority to fine a building owner after a third false alarm. He notes a few of these fines have already been issued.
The Steinbach Fire Department responded to fewer collisions last year than in 2021. There were 51 of these calls in 2022, down from 66 a year ago.
On the flip side, fires were up last year. In 2022, there was a total of 60 calls for fires, compared to 50 a year earlier. This takes into account all fires, including structure, vehicle and grass fires.
He notes the two calls that stood out from 2022 were the massive strip mall fire on Main Street on July 10th and the chicken barn fire in frigid conditions on January 1st.
Meanwhile, Toews says 49 individuals now make up the Steinbach Fire Department. He notes 2022 saw nine new members receive their Level One certificate. Also, last year the fire department got its training site operational.