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Fire department responded to 138 fires in 2017

During the year 2017, the LaGrange Fire Department responded to 138 fires and received more than 4,600 calls, according to the 2017 Departments of Public Safety annual report.

The report was presented by Public Safety Chief Lou Dekmar during Tuesday night’s LaGrange City Council meeting.

According to the report, the fire department responded to a total of 4,661 calls in 2017, the fourth time the department has had more than 4,600 calls since 2012.

By comparison, the department responded to just 3,218 calls in 2008 and the number of calls has gradually climbed since then, including a large increase of almost 700 calls from 2011 to 2012.

Those increases aren’t just in LaGrange though.

The National Fire Protection Association has seen its fire call numbers climb almost every year since the early 1980s, according to fire department statistics on the NFPA website.

The report said the LaGrange Fire Department had an average response time of 5 minutes, 34 seconds to its calls in 2017.

The response time is part of the reason the department is classified as a Class 2 fire department with the Insurance Services Organization. The class 2 rating results in lower insurance rates for citizens within the LaGrange Fire Department’s coverage area. Dekmar said Tuesday that the fire department has secured land rights to a piece of property for a sixth station near WellStar West Georgia Medical Center, which would help the department maintain that rating.

Of the 138 fires worked, there was a total property value of $27,664,284, according to the report. The fire department does its best to save as much of that value as possible — and saved 96 percent in 2017.

The total loss value in 2017 was $979,615.

“One of the measurements of effective firefighting is the loss compared to the property value and the total value saved during those fires was roughly 90 percent,” Dekmar said.

The majority of the department’s 4,661 calls — nearly 89 percent — were single company responses, according to the public safety report. Most of those incidents occurred between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. and most were accidental in nature.

According to the report, the leading causes of fires were cooking related. Other causes included negligent acts, smoking materials, chimney fires, criminal acts and electrical malfunctions.

The fire department responded to 483 false alarms in 2017, and that figure rose significantly from 360 in 2016.  However, the overall report notes that the number of false alarms has decreased over time, thanks to education efforts.

The fire department is divided into four stations. Thirty percent of incidents in 2017 were worked by station four, which is located at 215 Mooty Bridge Road. Station one, located at 1425 South Davis Road, worked 22 percent of incidents, and station three, located at 1212 Hogansville Road, worked 17 percent. Station two is located at 101 Aeotron Parkway and worked 8 percent of incidents. Those numbers were very similar to the 2016 numbers by station.

The department completed 2,176 total inspections in 2017, including 216 for the state fire marshal, Dekmar said.

“Those ensure that such things such as daycares, nursing homes, businesses have the appropriate equipment, sprinkler system, exits and the other requirements that code insists on,” Dekmar said.

The fire department performed over 2,149 hydrant tests last year, including 1,611 flow tests. A total of 1,450 hydrants were painted to meet the recommendations of the NFPA and 77 hydrants were determined to need repair by the city of LaGrange water department.