WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – West Lafayette firefighters have officially gone on almost twice the number of runs than usual since the annexation went into effect in February.
When the alarm sounds, the West Lafayette Fire Department goes. It’s added up to 670 runs since February’s annexation.
“West Lafayette Fire is actually responding to multiple calls at the same time. About 11 percent of the time, we respond to more than one call at a time,” said Chief Tim Heath.
The response number is up nearly 300 over the same four-month period last year. Heath said much of the reason for the big jump is a new software system, which is more accurate in reporting every time a fire truck leaves the station, even if it is turned around before it arrives on scene.
Heath, who is in Boston for a campus fire safety conference, said taking on the annexation has really been seamless. He said most of the annexation is farmland and the new U.S. 231, but some businesses have added to the number of runs.
“We’ve had several calls to the new Meijer store. Their gas station has had a couple of fire alarms go off and that’s normal with a new building and alarm system. We’ve had responses to Menards. So, that’s part of our growth is automatic alarms to some of our new facilities we picked up,” said Heath.
Heath said response times have not changed.
Kevin McCombs with the Wabash Township Fire Department said firefighters had to get used to hearing those calls at Meijer and Menards get dispatched in their old territory and having to stay put. He said even though they lost a lot of territory, their runs have increased too.
“Our numbers have actually not dropped at all. We’re actually up by 100. So, we’re looking at pushing a thousand runs this year, which is by 100 from last year for us,” explained McCombs.
Both men said the two departments will continue to work together.
“People will still stop here and say, ‘Hey, there’s an accident down the road.’ We just advise them that West Lafayette is en route and maybe send a truck down there to investigate until they get over here,” said McCombs.
“It’s brought us, the departments, closer because we realize there’s more training needed,” explained Health. “Those would be the only deficiencies is it’s opened our eyes to what we need to do training-wise and where we need to go.”
Heath said these numbers do not include the Purdue Fire Department’s numbers. Although, they do share some dual response areas, including Wang Hall on campus and the Sugar Hill subdivision.