Cranbrook Fire & Emergency Services has responded to 20 per cent more calls for service in the first three months of 2023.
Officials with the City of Cranbrook said this number is similar to other communities across B.C.’s interior.
The department received 514 calls in the first three months of this year compared to 427 in the same time frame in 2022.
Fire Chief Scott Driver said driving conditions were behind a number of their responses.
“The winter weather posed challenges for a number of different reasons, one of them was that we had 29 motor vehicle accidents in the first three months of this year. It’s pretty significant for our city and that’s a large increase over any other year,” said Driver.
Firefighters were also called more frequently in response to campfires, warming fires and fires near structures.
“The winter poses exceptional challenges for some of the people in our community experiencing homelessness. We had a 50 per cent increase in outdoor fires reported by the public,” said Driver.
City officials said three toxic drug alerts have been sent out since the start of this year, and a spike in overdose calls has followed each one.
“That’s led to 51 overdose-related calls in the first three months of the year,” said Driver. “That’s a pretty significant number and a lot of resources go to those calls.”
Driver said the increased workload is presenting a challenge with backing up resources and keeping staff fresh.
“If we don’t have opportunities to decompress after calls that are really challenging and resource intense, then we run into struggles,” said Driver. “We’re starting to look at how much volume we’re doing and where our resources are best spent and how efficient and effective we can be spread throughout the day.”
Driver said the department has two new staff members and is looking for ways keep up a sufficient level of service for the community.