PORT ORCHARD — The number of calls incoming to South Kitsap Fire and Rescue increased 10.7% in 2021, reaching more than 12,000 calls in one year and making it the busiest fire district in Kitsap County.
The call volume continues to rise this year, according to SKFR Fire Chief Jeff Faucett. Emergency calls in January were 20% higher than in the same month last year, he said, necessitating a need for the fire district to hire more personnel.
In 2021, SKFR responded to 12,005 emergency calls, or about 33 calls a day. But what might be surprising to many people is that emergency medical services accounted for 68% of all emergency responses by SKFR. Fires accounted for 208 calls — or 1.73% of emergency calls in 2021.
“Fires are devastating, and the most costly emergency service we provide,” Faucett said. “Fighting a fire takes more personnel, apparatus and equipment than anything else we do. While fires are a small percentage of our calls, we must be prepared for when they happen to prevent loss of life and property.”
While SKFR provides the highest level of emergency medical service, called Advanced Life Support, the agency also responds to explosions, hazardous material spills, technical rescues, motor vehicle accidents and natural disasters.
And then there are the proverbial “cats in trees” calls the fire district occasionally receives.
“We’ve had pets stuck in trees, water leaks, people unable to get off the floor, residents locked out of their house or car, kids stuck in playground equipment, house water pipe breaks — you name it,” Faucett said.
Also on SKFR’s call list are “special calls,” classified as someone believing there is an emergency when there might not be one. The fire chief says that, regardless, a fire unit is dispatched to check it out.
SKFR’s emergency crews have been responding to calls for many decades — in fact, it is celebrating its 75th year of service this year. Celebrations are planned later this summer when the weather brightens.
“We are extremely grateful for our community,” Faucett said. “We can’t say it enough, [but] ‘thank you.’ The South Kitsap community has invested in and built a high-quality emergency service response. Their personal and financial support means that we can save lives and property.”