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Fire Department shares annual report

The LaGrange Fire Department reduced its response time to structure fires in 2019 by 30 seconds while increasing the number of incidents about 500 calls.

LaGrange Fire Chief John Brant said for all five stations in LaGrange, the overall response time dropped to 8 minutes and 26 seconds in 2019. In 2018, the overall response time was 8 minutes 56 seconds in 2018. Additionally, he said the fire department’s numbers were in the 90th percentile for accreditation, meaning 90 percent of the time, firefighters were on the scene of an incident with those numbers.

The numbers by Brant were presented to the LaGrange City Council this past Tuesday during an afternoon work session.

The response time starts from the moment the call gets comes into the fire department. The numbers provided in the annual report said handling the request takes about 2 minutes. Firefighters getting into turnout gear, loading the truck and traveling takes about six minutes, resulting in the 8-minute response time.

On average, the fire department clears a call in about 36 minutes.   

The response liability of the department hovers at about 80 percent for each station, with an overall average of 86 percent. Response liability measures the percentage of times a unit was on the scene in their territory before other units.

Station 1 led the way with 88 percent; Station 2 reported 82 percent; Station 3 was at 85 percent; Station 4 measured at 86 percent; and Station 5 had 87 percent.

Brant said Station 2’s lower number could be attributed to the rookie school being located there.

While the response time for the fire department is decreasing, the number of calls has been steadily increasing since 2016.

In 2019, the department had 5,355 calls. That number is compared to 4,881 in 2018; 4,661 in 2017; and 4,539 in 2016.

“This was the first time the LaGrange Fire Department has even been over 5,000 calls,” Brant said.

Breaking it down by station, the annual report said Station 4, located on 215 Mooty Bridge Road, received the most calls with 1,662. Following Station 4 is Station 1, located at 1425 S. Davis Road with 1,475. Station 2, 101 Aeroton Pkwy had 965 calls and Station 3, located at 1212 Hogansville Rd, had 903 calls.

Station 5, located at 1519 Vernon Rd, only received 185 calls for service, but it opened in October 2018.

The fire department also saw the number of total damage calls increase in 2019 to 183. Those called resulted in the department saving more than $10.6 million in property values. However, $1.4 million worth of property was also lost. The total property value of all calls was $12.1 million.

In 2017, the department had 138 calls with a total property value of $27.6 million. The total value lost in 2017 was $979,615 but saved $26.6 million at that time.

Brant said the numbers documented for 2018 were for just structure fires at 46. The numbers in 2017 and 2019 referred to any call to the fire department that included damage.

So far, in 2020, the fire department has already responded to 17 working structure fires.

“Those are actual fire where we have deployed water lines and have seen smoke or flames showing once on scene,” Brant said.

He said grease fires and unattended cooking are still some of the leading causes of fires. He said people leave a burner on after cooking then go to sleep or leave the house and a fire starts.

“It goes back to education,” Brant said. “That is why we are trying to get into the schools because the best way to educate the adults is to educate the kids. It’s hard to reach adults.”

Additionally, Brant said he’d seen an increase in electrical fires lately, mostly due to older wiring.

LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton said the wiring issue might be something code enforcement needs to look at.

“That’s probably something we should share with code enforcement and utilities when they do move in and move out inspections,” he said.

Training is also a big part of the fire department’s yearly mission to get better, Brant said.

In 2019, the fire department trained for 38,820 hours as a whole, which breaks down to about 650 hours of training for each person.

“That’s something we are proud of,” Brant said. “We pride ourselves on training and keeping our people educated and able to do their job.”

Brant said the upcoming training facility, located 111 Lukken Industrial Drive West, will continue to improve the fire department’s training ability.

The department will host a ribbon-cutting and grand opening for the training facility at 11 a.m. on Wednesday that is free and open to the public. Brant said firefighters would perform demonstrations during the event.