Increasing EMS calls lead to record year for Danville Fire Department

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DANVILLE (WSLS 10) - An increasing number of calls means the Danville Fire Department has less time to spend on other aspects of the job, such as training and education.

Chief David Eagle said educating people about what the department and the 911 system are for is critical in reducing the number of calls.

New numbers show that 2016 was the first year in the department's history in which the department responded to more than 8,000 total calls in a year.

Chief Eagle points out that about 69 percent of the department's calls in 2016 were EMS calls, but many were non-emergency calls, ones the department really should not have had to respond to.

He said the high number of calls is due to a high number of low-income individuals living in the city and a general lack of education about the fire department.

Surprisingly though, he said that because of the dedication of his firefighters, the department hasn't had to bring on more firefighters to keep up with the increasing calls.

But, he emphasizes that the firefighters' workload is something he always keeps in mind.

"We've looked at how we can maintain our staffing and keep the firefighters we have and as we continue to grow that's certainly something we're looking at," said  Eagle.

Firefighter Capt. Kevin Hayes was on the department's busiest shift in 2016.

He said while the increasing calls can make for some long shifts, he and his fellow firefighters don't mind the challenge.

"Just a little bit of a pride factor knowing that you did have the busiest engine in the city for that particular year," Hayes said. "We know what we're getting into when we move to a busy station, so we take it all in stride."

Eagle says the department will continue to do everything it can in the way of education, but he anticipates 2017 being another record year.

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