WM Fire Department’s busy 2017 spilling over into new year

Fire and ambulance calls close to 1,800 last year


Almost everyone has seen a distracted driver or heard about an accident with somebody mesmerized by their cell phone. But distracted cooking led the way with fire calls in West Memphis last year. The big red trucks always seem to be running in West Memphis. The number of fire calls in 2017 were up and continued climbing a recent trend. Alarm calls last year outpaced 2016 by more than 300.

Assistant Chief Jeff Jones compiled the statistics and categorized the calls last year for the Fire Commission at the January meeting.

Two kinds of emergency calls jumped out at the assistant chief. Cooking fires remain a leading cause for alarm while personal panic alarms are coming in more frequently than ever as people pressed the button for “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Unintentional alarms, seemed on

Photos courtesy of WMFD Facebook an upward trend as well.

West Memphis’ bravest made 1,784 runs last year.

“It’s increased dramatically,” said Jones. “Just the fire truck runs were up over 300 runs. If you look at the history each year has been steady going up.”

The fire truck companies respond to medical calls especially if the ambulance is father away. Medical calls have climbed as well.

“We see a lot more alarm calls, malfunctions and unintended

alarms have gone

up drastically.

“We are getting medical panic alarms now,” said Jones. “They call the fire department and we pick them up. Just in December we had 12 assists. It’s on the rise.”

According to Jones, changes in family life and neighborhoods lent to the rise in picking up fallen residents. Many elderly live alone, and kin is farther away than ever. Neighbors come and go and the days of everyone being able to call their neighbors by name for help seem to be a bygone era.

“More often now family and neighbors aren’t there to help one someone falls, so we get the call,” said Jones.

The chief saved the most for last.

“What we see more than anything is kitchen fires, “ said Jones. “It’s like that all over the country.”

The National Fire Prevention Association claimed cooking fires as the number one cause of home fires and injuries and offered some simple tips. Stay alert to what is cooking. Don’t be distracted. Drunk and drowsy cooking has lead to more stovetop fires. Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling food. Even while baking or simmering, using timers and staying in the kitchen were recommended. One way to prevent kitchen fires is to keep anything that can catch fire away from the cook top, including oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packages, towels and curtains.

By John Rech