Firefighters with the Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory are increasingly busier than ever before.
While giving his monthly response report for July on Tuesday, Fire Chief Garrett Holderman reported WWFT had 337 responses, just a bit up from June. Of these calls, 39 were fire-related.
“With each month, (it) kind of increases a couple percents,” he said. “… So at any given time, one or two or all three of our trucks are out on different calls.”
Reporting on medical and CARES (Community Assistance Resources Emergency Services) calls, Holderman said they had a total of 185 medical calls in July, “which is also dramatically going up. We’re on a pace for about 4,000 calls this year, which is just about 1,000 more than where we at last year, so we’re really starting to pick up on the calls. CARES is picking up, we had 66 (CARES calls), not as a dramatic of an increase from a couple months ago, but it is a slight uptick from June by about 12 calls, so that also is picking up.”
The CARES program is a city initiative through the fire department to assist those in need of mental health assistance.
Board member Brandon Schmitt, a former Warsaw firefighter, said when he started as a firefighter in 2001, they did 1,000 calls total. “Not 1,000 more, 1,000 total,” he said.
Holderman said, “Especially right now, the amount of opioids coming into this town – the amount of overdoses we’re running is unbelieveable right now. That’s not helping anything.”
Later in the meeting, Holderman told the Fire Territory Board that he would be asking the Warsaw Common Council Tuesday night for approval to transfer funds totaling $60,000.
The Council approved the transfer unanimously.
“With inflation and fuel, diesel being so heavy, and running 1,000 more calls and EMS supplies being a little more expensive, we’re going to be short on our operating supplies, so we’re going to move $40,000 from our machinery and equipment to our operating budget because of the diesel fuel and stuff like that. We’re still underbudgeted from last year because of inflation,” Holderman explained.
A transfer of $15,000 was from other capital outlays to communication and transportation “mainly for training,” he said, and to “cap off the training year” and finish paying Dive Rescue International (DRI) for the training that took place in August.
The last transfer, for $5,000 from professional services to other services and charges, was to finish paying off the decaling and lettering for the new battalion chief’s vehicle.
Board member Gordon Nash made a motion to recommend to the Council that they approve the transfers, with Councilman Mike Klondaris seconding it. It was approved unanimously.
Also during Tuesday’s Fire Territory Board meeting, Holderman reported on the dive training a number of firefighters participated in during the week of Aug. 15.
While Holderman was out of town during that training, he said DRI came into town and provided “very successful” classes. Firefighters and police officers from Lansing, Mich.; Fort Wayne, Indianapolis and other cities took part. The three classes offered included a two-day sonar technician class, a three-day light salvage and recovery class and a three-day hazardous materials waters diving class.
“It went awesome. The mayor came. They wrote a really great news article on it, and the guys had a really great time. We had a lot of compliments from our DRI instructors on our team. It went really awesome,” Holderman said.
For the light salvage and recovery class, Gill’s Auto Parts donated a car, which was stripped of the motor, transmission and all the fluid was removed from it so it could be submerged into Center Lake for training, Holderman said.
He said they’re going to try to have three more classes next year and hopefully there will be a better showing then.
“There was a lot of people there but not as much as we would have liked to have,” Holderman said.
EMS Chief Chris Fancil, who participated in the sonar technician class, said it was a good experience and a good way to meet folks from other dive teams. “It’s a good way for us to be a beacon of that training,” he said.