BST&G Fire District Chief Christopher R. Kovach gave a 2018 annual report to Sunbury Village Council on April 3. This Fire and Rescue unit, established in 1953, serves four areas — the villages of Galena and Sunbury, and the townships of Berkshire and Trenton.
Formerly of Olmsted Township in Cuyahoga County, Kovach became BST&G chief last July following the death of beloved chief and firefighter Jeff Wilson.
“This is one of the most dedicated groups of firefighters that I have ever encountered,” Kovach said in the report. “The majority of them have deep roots in the community having grown up here, and many of them continue to call this home. … This area is growing at a blistering pace, and we must continue to grow with it. We are determined to take this fire department to the next level. This will demand that we invest in our personnel to make sure they have the best training and equipment so that you receive the highest quality of fire and rescue protection possible.”
In 2018, BST&G answered 1,020 calls; twice as many as when it first kept statistics in 2002. Of those 2018 incidents, 43% were EMS calls; 29% were fire runs; 11% involved accidents; and the remaining 17% included false alarms, service calls and HazMat/miscellaneous reports. For the fires, 43% were buildings; 16% were vehicles; 15% were dumpsters; 14% were grass fires; and 12% was unauthorized burning. On the majority of the EMS runs, BST&G was the first responder.
The busiest month was May, with the most incidents taking place on a Tuesday, and between 6 and 7 p.m. Using heat mapping data, the busiest areas in the fire district were in Sunbury and Berkshire.
Kovach told council that as a result of those findings, a future second station is likely to be needed in the “hot spot” of Berkshire Township.
The average response time for BST&G was 6 minutes and 32 seconds over an area of 53 square miles. Fire prevention also took the form of 371 inspections in 2018. The firefighters and officers participated in 1,102 hours of in-house training, as well as 776 hours of outside training. As the district’s website states, “Safety is First.”
Using the 2018 estimated census, it was determined by BST&G that Delaware County is the fastest-growing county in Ohio; and the area BST&G serves is the fastest-growing area of the county, with a nearly 21% increase in population since 2010. For reference, Delaware County is the 78th fastest-growing county in the United States.
As the result of passing the district’s last fire levy, BST&G is in its third year of full-time/part-time 24-hour staffing, dramatically declining the need for mutual aid.
Among the capital purchases made by the department in 2018 were two vehicles, extrication and airbag lifting equipment, replacing six sets of gear; and the roof was repaired and painted.
Goals for 2019, according to the report, include the hiring of three full-time firefighters on June 1; upgrading HazMat and grain rescue equipment; and developing a new department training program.
Last but not least, Kovach said the department participated in 60 community events in 2018.
The BST&G Fire District is located at 350 W. Cherry St. in Sunbury. For more information, visit http://bstgfiredistrict.org/bstg/ and the non-emergency phone is 740-965-3841.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.