Calls to Bethel Fire Dept Spike This October

by Anna Rose MacArthur on October 13, 2015


Bethel Fire Dept. Building

Bethel Fire Dept. Building

Bethel Fire Department calls have spiked this October, and we are not even halfway through the month.

October means PFD season, and Bethel Fire Chief Bill Howell said, historically, that means more people coming to Bethel.

“People have a little more discretionary income, and they come to Bethel to blow of steam. They come to Bethel to shop, to eat out,” said Howell.

With more people, Howell said, comes more calls for service. The department responds to both fire and medical emergencies.

Calls are about 60 percent greater than they were during this time last October. And calls for the first week of this month are two to three times higher than each week last September with numbers jumping from about 17 calls per week to 44 calls recorded last week.

Also higher this month are alcohol related calls. Over half the calls last week reported “an intoxicated person.” Whereas last month, it was one call most weeks.

“There have certainly been some challenges over the last couple weeks,” said Howell. “We have to prioritize those runs, so occasionally a call that’s not as emergent will have a delayed response to it.”

Howell speculated that the influx of calls this month has to do with the largest ever PFD coinciding with lower energy costs, which has increased travel to Bethel.

“It’s really hard to say, until we look at the entire month, what the overall effect is.”

Not only is October PFD season, it is also Fire Prevention Month in Alaska. While the department is responding to more calls, it is also educating around 700 school children about fire prevention as well as raising community awareness about measures such as cleaning chimneys and checking gas alarms.

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