PORTAGE | Portage firefighters had another busy year in 2012, answering a total of 3,924 calls.
That's an increase of about 300 calls from the previous year, said Fire Chief Tom Fieffer.
Of those calls, 3,034 were from emergency medical service; 127 for fires; 12 for explosions; 86 for hazardous conditions; 233 calls of service for smoke or odor removal, water leaks, lock outs and lift assists; 219 good intent calls; 198 false alarms; two severe weather and 13 special type calls.
The total fire loss in the city was nearly $3.6 million, with $2.8 million coming from two fires at industrial facilities involving similar machinery.
Fieffer said the department implemented a new preventative maintenance program for equipment in vehicles in 2012, keeping up on simple routine things like changing batteries and tires on a regular basis.
"It saves money on the long run because you don't get the big repairs then," he said.
They also had substantial work completed on one of the tower trucks, spending $20,000 to replace the suspension on the vehicle, which, said Fieffer, he believes will double the life expectancy on the 17-year-old vehicle.
Other highlights of the year include switching emergency medical service direction provider from Methodist Hospitals to Porter Regional Hospital and bringing back a former PFD paramedic, now PRH emergency room doctor, Dave Cummins, as the department's EMS medical director.
Three firefighters were hired to replace those who had left or retired, bringing the department to its full contingent of 61. Since then a firefighter retired earlier this year and the city is in the process of hiring his replacement.
The department also completed the narrow banding of its radios and installed two repeaters to expand the reach of the radios, said Fieffer.
Fieffer said the department also reached out to the community, holding CPR classes that reached more than 1,400 students during the year.