With training, meetings and calls, Hutchinson firefighters sometimes spend as much time in close quarters with each other as they do their families. That made it critical for the department to get ahead of COVID-19 safety needs in 2020.
"When it became apparent that the pandemic was heading our way, our officer group met, revised our procedures and protocols," wrote Fire Chief Mike Schumann in his annual report submitted to City Council during its meeting Feb. 9. "(We) came up with a plan to stockpile more PPE supplies (and) take strategic action to reduce or eliminate resource exposure to firefighters and equipment on emergency scenes."
The department also added decontamination procedures, which it continues to use, modified training into small groups and implemented alternating training nights.
Despite the many new challenges to account for, Hutchinson firefighters also had plenty of the usual business:
5: The number of new recruits tested and hired.
18: The number of emergency calls summer duty crews working weekend responded to between Memorial Day and Labor Day. They also completed maintenance and repairs, installed new metal windows on the training tower, cleaned and trained.
484: The total calls for service received by the fire department in 2020. Medical calls were the most frequent.
3: The number of lives saved by Hutchinson firefighters in 2020.
$6.62 million: The value of property saved by Hutchinson firefighters in 2020.
$25,000: The money saved for the city by using officer-only responses when appropriate. There were 135 such calls, saving roughly 2,000 firefighter labor hours.
922: The number of students who received fire safety education in 2020. Opportunities for education were greatly reduced due to COVID-19, but a new plan was made with Hutchinson schools to deliver education at West Elementary and Park Elementary.
5:39: The response time of the Hutchinson Fire Department. The calculation is based on the time between the alarm and the first truck out the door.