To say Sooke Fire Rescue Service had a busy year would be an understatement. Just ask Fire Chief Steve Sorensen.
Sooke firefighters answered 964 rescue, emergency medical and fire calls in 2015 – a 33 per cent increase over the same period in 2014.
The fire department also recorded the most number of fires (82), motor vehicle crashes (91) and medical emergency calls (498) in its 102-year history. Other categories recorded by dispatchers included 57 for hazardous conditions, 71 alarm bells and 122 burning complaints.
“With a corresponding drop of 25 per cent in volunteer staffing it has made this year the busiest and most challenging on record,” Sorensen said in a report to district council.
“In reviewing long term statistics the fire department has seen an increase in call volume of approximately 10 per cent per year over the past 25-year reporting period.”
And 2016 is beginning where 2015 left off.
So far this year, the fire department has responded to about the same amount of calls in the first few months of 2016 as in the same period last year, Sorensen said.
But help is on the way – at least from a personnel perspective.
The Sooke Fire Rescue Service is training six new firefighters, in partnership with the Metchosin Fire Department. The rookie volunteer firefighters are expected to be on the job in mid-April.