Fire department has record year
The Perham Fire Department responded to a record number of calls in 2013, continuing a pattern of increasing calls over the past few years.
The department responded to 163 reported fires or other emergencies last year, according to Perham Fire Chief Mark Schmidt.
That’s the most calls the department has ever responded to in one year, easily beating out the previous year’s record of 130. The year before that, in 2011, there were 128 calls, and the year before that, 126.
Of the 163 calls last year, 11 were for structure fires, 36 were vehicle rescues, 13 were grass fires, 24 were to provide mutual aid to other organizations, and the rest were for more minor incidents.
The majority of those calls (90) came from within the Perham city limits, with the rest coming from Perham Township, Pine Lake Township, Corliss Township and other locations surrounding Perham.
On average, 16 firefighters responded to each call.
Schmidt said he wasn’t exactly sure what’s causing the rise in calls, other than, “the growth of the city and the fact that there are simply more people around. There are more cars on the road, more things happening in the city, with business growth here and there... It’s a little bit of everything.”
As growth continues, he said, he would expect the calls to continue to rise in the future.
To meet the increasing demand, Schmidt is hoping to recruit more firefighters to the department. In recent years, there have been about 30 or more members on the Perham team; right now, there are 27, “so we’re actually below what we’re usually at,” according to Schmidt.
There has been a recent spate of applications submitted, however, likely sparked by a big fire at an R.D. Offutt Co. potato warehouse in January, which garnered a lot of news coverage and brought attention to the Perham Fire Department.
“A stack of seven applications is sitting on my desk right now,” Schmidt said, “so I think now we’re going to move forward with testing and other things like that.”
All Perham firefighters complete training courses recommended by the National Fire Protection Association, and meet twice a month. Schmidt said the department is always looking for additional firefighters.