SUNBURY — The BST&G Fire District had a record number of runs, Chief Christopher R. Kovach told Sunbury Village Council earlier this month.
“With a nearly 20% increase in our call volume in 2019, we expect each year will continue to climb even higher,” Kovach said in the district’s annual report, which he presented to council. There were 1,221 total incidents in 2019. Of those, 579 were EMS runs, 139 were false alarms (mostly residential), 121 were vehicle accidents, 83 were fires (primarily buildings and cars), and 31 were gas leaks.
There were also 281 inspections by BST&G’s Fire Prevention Bureau. There were 125 car seat installations through a partnership with the Delaware General Health District.
The busiest month for incidents was May; Saturdays were the busiest day; and 7 p.m. was the busiest hour. The average response time was seven minutes, 29 seconds to a fire; six minutes, four seconds for an EMS call; for an average of six-and-a-half minutes.
“We were prepared for it. We had increased our staffing,” Kovach told council of the increased workload.
Kovach added one of the main goals last year was to add enough firefighters to permit operating two trucks concurrently. Three additional full-time firefighters were hired in June to do so. Then in October, eight part-time firefighters were hired so the district can staff six firefighters per day. Also, Greg Roy was hired as fiscal officer.
In 2019, the fire district made a number of capital purchases. Most notable was new Engine 351, nicknamed “The Beast of the East,” which was delivered in April. Other capital purchases were rescue stabilization struts, finished cordless rescue equipment upgrade, rescue air bag, landscaping and windows to the fire station, replacement gear, updated fitness equipment, water rescue equipment, and an inflatable boat.
The district also purchased and installed a diesel exhaust evacuation system. Kovach said this reduces the firefighters’ exposure to diesel exhaust, a known carcinogen. More than 4,000 hours of firefighter training were given last year, Kovach said. In August, training took place at a burning house.
As its name suggests, BST&G serves Berkshire and Trenton townships, and the villages of Galena and Sunbury. The added firefighters and equipment will help serve each of these growing communities. Berkshire’s population in 2010 was 3,085 and is estimated to be 4,212 in 2020. Galena had 653 people in 2010 with 865 estimated in 2020. Sunbury’s 2010 count was 4,389, and it will become a city in 2020 with an estimated 6,025 people. Trenton Township, which is east of Sunbury, had 2,190 people in 2010 and is estimated to grow to 2,333 in 2020.
All told, BST&G’s service population in 2010 was 10,317. In 2020, it is expected to be 13,435, which is a 30% increase. Delaware is the fastest-growing county in Ohio and 22nd-fastest in the country, according to data provided by the Delaware County Regional Planning Commission.
Kovach said he feels a second fire station in the NorthStar area is a possibility in the next three to five years. BST&G has its station in Sunbury.
“In 2020, we will start to carefully examine and lay the groundwork for the fire district’s future,” Kovach said in the annual report. “We will begin to evaluate funding, deployment, projected growth and development, capital needs, and long-range planning.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.