It's been eight consecutive years without a fire-related fatality in the Hutchinson area, according to Hutchinson Fire Department Chief Mike Schumann's annual report to City Council Tuesday.
Part of the reason the streak continues is because of a new analytical approach the fire department has taken toward its response to fire emergencies.
"We try to get the most efficiency out of it," Schumann said regarding collected data. "It helps us to identify ... the good and the bad of our response time and try to make changes from that."
One of the most significant changes the department has made with its data is maximizing its efficiency. Schumann said he’s able to see what days and hours the department is more likely to receive an emergency call and staff accordingly.
The new data has also helped the department calculate a more precise average response time for its emergency calls. In past years response time was calculated using times for all of the department’s calls, even those that aren’t emergencies.
“The last two years are the first two years we've had really solid data where we're literally looking just at the calls that the trucks roll,” Schumann said.
With more precise data the department was able to drop 20 seconds off its response time, from 6 minutes, 10 seconds in 2018 to 5 minutes, 50 seconds in 2019.
Schumann also highlighted the benefits of a pilot online training program the fire department was selected for in 2020. Having part of a training program online, Schumann believes, will save time. Currently, training classes are held on Monday nights.
“Our hope is to offset some of those nights where it's pure classroom,” he said. “We can have our guys do it on their time and not have to come down Monday night. We can give them a break on Monday night here and there."
One thing is for certain: Firefighters do a lot of different things. In the report, Schumann noted fire calls accounted for only 7.3 percent of incidents reported in 2019. This placed fires at No. 4 on his report.
Rescue and emergency calls, which include responding to motor vehicle accidents and providing medical assistance, accounted for nearly half, 48.6 percent, of the department’s calls. Dealing with hazardous conditions (20.5 percent) and responding to false alarms/calls (15.1 percent) were the second and third most occurring calls for firefighters, respectively.