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Fire Department calls up slightly in 2023
Fire 2-7

The total number of calls for the Escalon Consolidated Fire Protection District came in at 1,220 for 2023, covering a wide range of incidents. That figure was up slightly from the 1,193 incidents in 2022.

For the year, the busiest month was August, when the department responded to 117 calls, said Fire Chief Rick Mello, while the slowest month was February of 2023, with 79 incidents.

This past year, a total of 59.8 percent of the incidents that firefighters responded to were for medical aid. And while that seems like a high percentage, Mello said it is one that is on the decline.

“It keeps edging down a little bit every year; it dropped below 60 percent which is unusual,” the chief said. “Surprisingly, our fires were lower as well.”

The department figures show that, of the 1,220 total incidents, 730 were for medical aid, 123 were motor vehicle accidents, 75 were fires and 292 were in the ‘miscellaneous’ category that can include fire alarms or public assistance calls.

“In my world that’s a good thing,” Mello said of the actual fire calls dropping and accounting for less than 100 of the total incident volume.

The busiest month for fires was July, with 16 requiring a response. Busiest month for motor vehicle accidents was a tie between September and October, each month with 15 calls.

August, typically the hottest month of the year, had 71 calls for medical aid, the busiest month for that category.

“It was busier than last year (2022) but not the record-breaking number of 1308 calls of years ago,” Mello said.

The firehouse on Coley Avenue is staffed 24/7 with three different shifts rotating. The A shift has Battalion Chief Dan Morris and Dave Velasco, B shift is Battalion Chief Moe Silva and Cassidy Bohannon, C shift is Battalion Chief Joe Pelot and Ryan Burr.

The department reserves also often pick up shifts so there is a third person on duty.

“The core group that we have is very solid,” Mello said of the reserve firefighters.

They have to commit to working a minimum of 48 hours per month and attend three drills per month, which rotate through Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings week to week.

It is a smaller group than in the past, though, as several reserves left last year with many hired on by other departments.

“Fire service is hiring, and that has kind of been our lot in life,” Mello noted. “We train them and send them out; it gives credibility to our program but it’s tough to see them go, they get to be like my kids.”

Reserves are paid on a per diem basis in the ‘off season’ and when the department goes into its fire season program, they work as the third staff member and are paid a specific wage.

“We’re very close to all year ‘round having a third person on duty all the time,” Mello explained. “We do a lot with a little, just having that extra person makes a huge difference.”