Last year proved to be another busy one for the Sedona Fire District. And while the overall number of calls decreased slightly, the types of calls varied greatly.
The 2016 annual report — which is compiled each year by SFD Executive Assistant Tricia Greer — offers a glimpse into what the staff of the district does on a day-to-day basis.
In a message from Chief Kris Kazian, he wrote, “2016 was a year where we experienced significant upticks in the frequency of specific calls such as EMS incidents and structure fires; overall, we experienced a decline of 80 calls compared to 2015. However, the trend line suggests we will continue to receive an increase in calls for service over time and we will develop staffing models to best handle that workload.
“We continue to see operational benefits to the full implementation of Station 6 with a recent realignment of staffing to meet response needs. We have certainly developed a strong response model that is stretched on a frequent basis due to the way our calls for service are initiated.”
Last year, SFD responded to 4,358 calls, which was a decrease of 80 calls from the previous year. Of those, 3,089 were medical and rescue calls followed by 719 service calls, 175 good intent calls and 149 false alarm calls.
In all, crews responded to 59 fires. Some of the fire calls noted in the report included:
- Feb. 22: Within a 90-minute period SFD crews responded to reports of multiple brush fires along State Route 89A in Oak Creek Canyon and in the city of Sedona. The fires were deemed suspicious and were investigated by Coconino County Sheriff’s Office, Sedona Police Department, Arizona Department of Public Safety, U.S. Forest Service and SFD.
- April 23: Responding crews found fire in a wash. 25 mph winds, with gusts to 35 mph, drove the fire toward residential homes and two apartment complexes. Crews contained the fire to the wash, adjacent open field and one single-family residence. Four juveniles were reported in the area at time of fire. Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office interviewed and determined that the juveniles started the fire.
- Aug. 26: Structure Fire at Villas at Seven Canyons. Upon arriving, crews were met with heavy fire venting from the roof of two adjoining villas and immediately went into a defensive firefighting mode. Using over 50,000 gallons of water, the fire was brought under control with no damage to structures located within 20 feet on each side of the burning structure. Crews were still on scene the following day extinguishing hot spots. Damage from the fire was estimated at $3.6 million.
- Oct. 27: Crews responded to a structure fire at SFD Fire Station 5 in Oak Creek Canyon just north of Indian Gardens. Emergency crews located a fire on the back patio of the building, involving a portable barbecue, which had been extinguished by a crew member. An SFD firefighter was flown to Maricopa County Burn Center by air ambulance as a result of sustaining burn injuries. A single sprinkler head located just inside the building activated, limiting fire from spreading into the building.
- Dec. 31: SFD crews found a golf cart in a garage that had caught on fire. The homeowner called 911 and kept the fire in check with a garden hose. Damage was light as a result of the quick action of the homeowner and fire crews. Upon investigation, it was discovered the owner had used a “home brew” recipe to modify the golf cart to operate with about 250 small batteries of the same type Tesla uses in cars. Due to a failure in the charging system or the batteries, small explosions occurred as these cells failed.
Last year saw the dedication of the Sept. 11 memorial at Station 6 on the 15th anniversary of that tragic day. The ceremony and a community lunch was attended by almost 600 people. In August 2015, SFD was gifted an almost 3,000 pound, 51/2--foot steel girder from what is believed to be the 20th floor of one of the World Trade Center towers from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The project was spearheaded by former SFD board member Scott Jablow, a retired Port Authority of New York and New Jersey officer.
Other items noted from last year included 73 backcountry rescues and a new drone project to be used during rescues and fires. In addition, SFD firefighters supported large wildfire incidents throughout the West in excess of 200 days bringing in $196,390 in revenue to the district. And, the district hired several new firefighters.
“We continue to be blessed with an entire staff focused on doing the best at everything we do — from the front office when we answer the phone to the crews responding to an emergency and everything in between,” Kazian wrote. “When an emergency occurs, I assure you, we are ready to give our best on your worst day.”
The full report can be found at sedonafire.org.