PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | A Wading River Fire Department heavy rescue crew works at the scene of a car accident last year.
Like their neighbors in Riverhead, the Wading River Fire Department and EMS teams reported their busiest year yet in 2012, officials said.
But while last year’s wildfires in Manorville and Hurricane Sandy likely played a role in keeping firefighters busy, Fire Chief Jim Evans said the shift in numbers represents a new normal for Wading River.
“It’s just a sign of the times,” Mr. Evans said. “We’re always being pulled in another direction.”
The Wading River Fire Department responded to 271 calls in 2012, according to department records, up from 262 in 2011. The department had another 35 miscellaneous calls that weren’t reported on the year-end statistics since those were mutual aid calls, mostly related to the wildfires and other some emergencies, Mr. Evans said.
Automatic alarms, electrical and wire emergencies and smoke investigations all rose in 2012, though vehicle fires and outdoor fire calls dropped slightly, the report states.
Structure fire calls were nearly halved from 43 in 2011 to 27 in 2012, yet overall alarms were still up.
The Wading River EMS teams also reported a spike in calls last year, up by about 7 percent from 735 calls in 2011 to 784 calls in 2012, according to the report.
Mr. Evans said 2013 is currently on track to beat last year’s totals.
“We had our busiest January ever, so we’re still going,” he said last week, before the Friday into Saturday nor’easter hit.
Mr. Evans later said the fire department responded about 20 emergencies during the blizzard, and dug a half dozen stranded people from their cars on local roads the night of the storm.
Firefighters used brush trucks to get through the snow drifts as they checked on the abandoned cars to make sure no one was trapped inside, Mr. Evans said, but even those trucks were becoming stuck in the snow.
“This is pretty much unprecedented in terms of the roads,” he said. ”We all need a break now.”
Those looking to join the Wading River Fire Department can fill out an application at the department’s headquarters on North Country Road.
For a detailed breakdown of last year’s fire department and ambulance calls, see the infographic below: