Fire departments release stats

GLENDALE — Calls to the Glendale Fire Department exceeded 15,000 in 2007, with Burbank, which has about half the population of Glendale, recording more than 9,500, year-end statistics show.

The Glendale Fire Department responded to more than 1,600 fire-related incidents in 2007, which included calls for fire alarms and residential, structure and vegetation fires, according to department statistics. Medical incidents — with calls for shortness of breath, chest pain and falls topping the list — exceeded 12,000, Glendale Fire Department statistics showed.

Eighty to 85% of all calls the department received were medical-related, Glendale Fire Capt. Tom Propst said.

Glendale Fire recently added a fifth ambulance to accommodate the demand, he said. Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena have an automatic aid agreement, meaning that the cities share resources when a flurry of activity stretches a department too thin, he said.

The Burbank Fire Department logged more than 7,200 medical calls in 2007, with about 1,640 responses for fire-related issues, according to Unified Response, which tracks activity in Verdugo Dispatch Center cities, including Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena.

Overall Fire Department activity in Glendale is on the rise, but calls that are directly fire-related seem to be dropping slightly, Propst said.

That downward trend can be attributed, in part, to increased enforcement and advances in building codes, as well as public safety education, he added.

“We as a Fire Department and firefighters are concerned about people’s safety, so we’re very vigilant about doing the inspections to make sure that the business and the residences are going to be fire safe,” he said. “It’s a high importance of ours, and we feel that since we enforce those programs that we have a lower number of fires. But there’s always the opportunity for fires in our city, and we’re prepared for that.”

Similar education and preparedness measures in Burbank have contributed to trends of less fire-related damage, Burbank Fire Capt. Ron Bell said.

“Certainly, our fire-prevention efforts have changed over the years,” he said.

“Walking around and talking to every business owner in town certainly makes their business safer, and we have less fires now than we used to.”

And new homes and buildings equipped with sprinklers can often lower damages or eliminate fires altogether, Bell said.

“Those put out fires or hold them in check until we get there,” he said.

The need to prevent fires before they start has taken both the Glendale and Burbank fire departments into the schools, where they promote fire safety.

Burbank Fire officials give presentations to elementary school students — from not playing with matches to “stop, drop and roll” — as well as provide station tours for preschool- and kindergarten-aged children, Bell said.

Burbank is planning to unveil a fire camp in 2008, which will give middle schoolers the chance to complete activities and spend the night at the fire training center, he said.

Glendale fire officials are also involved with city schools, spreading fire safety information as well as encouraging students to consider careers in public service, Propst said.

“We’re trying to expose children at the elementary school age to the dangers of fire and fire safety and trying to promote that into the high schools,” he said.

“And now we want to try to encourage them of looking at the careers of fire or law enforcement.”

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