Fire Warden Provides Call Information For 2017

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The Sweetwater County Fire Department responded to more than 100 calls throughout 2017, according to information presented to the County Commissioners today.

Memorial Hospital Sleeping

Fire Warden Mike Bournazian briefed the Commission on the Sweetwater County Fire Department’s activities and fire season from last year.

In total, Sweetwater County Fire Department responded to 108 incidents, 52 of which were fires. Other calls included 26 “good intent calls.” Bournazian said good intent calls often occur when someone unfamiliar with the area sees activity at one of the many mines or plants in the area and believes a fire has occurred. The department responded to 13 false alarm calls. Other call types included rescue and emergency services (7), Hazardous condition (5), service call (3), and sever weather & natural disaster (2).

Bournazian noted that the Fourth of July continues to be a busy time for fire departments across the county.

“[Last] Fourth of July was one of the craziest I have ever experienced in thirty-one years of firefighting. I’m not looking forward to another Fourth of July like that. However, when we allow fireworks to be legal in our county, we can expect it to be challenging,” said Bournazian. “We were challenged to the point that we ran out of people to respond to all the fires at a certain point. That is a problem.”

Bournazian said he is not asking for fireworks to be banned, but wanted to inform the Commissioners that the Fourth of July is a challenge for his department and others.

“I never said I want to ban anything. I strictly want to bring to your attention that the Fourth of July is our greatest challenge because we allow fireworks within the county on private property. I know they’re not allowed on public lands, but that’s our greatest challenge and we have to respond to that. So, we’re trying to find ways to better respond and manage that and keep our folks safe. Safety is my priority,” Bournazian told the Commissioners.

He noted that about 90% of the fires reported around the Fourth of July were due to illegal use of fireworks on public land or on private land without the owner’s permission.

Bournazian said he and other fire chiefs throughout the county are already planning for the Fourth of July and trying to find ways to improve response and communication.