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Vancouver Fire and Rescue responded to 65,000 calls in 2022, chief says

Click to play video: 'VFRS dealing with it’s highest call volume in years'
VFRS dealing with it’s highest call volume in years
WATCH: With the large increase in call volume, Vancouver Fire and Rescue Chief Karen Fry speaks to what could help her department stay on top of everything.

Vancouver’s fire department had an extremely busy year in 2022, as their chief said the service responded to more than 65,000 calls throughout the year.

The thousands of calls was an 18 per cent jump from 2019 pre-pandemic call volumes.

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Firefighters responded to nearly 7,000 overdose calls. By mid-2022, Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services had to cut back on the types of medical calls it was responding to.

“Despite that, we still saw an increase in calls,” Vancouver fire chief Karen Fry said.

“So those higher acuity calls, such as cardiac arrests and overdoses, we still continue to see an increase in these types of incidents.”

Outdoor fires, including fires involving rubbish, buildings and alleyways, have skyrocketed in the past year — with an almost 70 per cent increase since 2019.

“We’ve seen a lot of increase (of fires), especially in the areas where some of our homeless individuals and most vulnerable are living,” Fry said. “We see a lot in the Granville strip area as well as the Downtown Eastside area.”

Click to play video: 'Vancouver man remains homeless two months after Downtown Eastside SRO fire'
Vancouver man remains homeless two months after Downtown Eastside SRO fire

Vancouver is one of the country’s busiest fire departments per capita, responding to 92 incidents per 1,000 residents. By comparison, Calgary fire crews attended an average of 55 calls per 1,000 residents in 2022.

As part of the department’s growth plan, the service is asking for an additional 55 personnel by the end of the year.

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“Anytime we are not meeting our staffing levels — its compromising safety,” Fry told Global News.

“Those numbers were put there for a reason and it’s something we still need as a city in our to do our job and to protect our community as best we can.”

In 2023, the fire department will be introducing the first electric fire engine to its fleet – the first of its kind in Canada. It is expected to be in operation sometime in the fall.

Click to play video: 'Vancouver fire unveils SRO stat'
Vancouver fire unveils SRO stat

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