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Emergency Calls at All Time High in 2012

The Port Washington Fire Department is able to take in more money because of the increased calls, which may come in handy when it needs to look at expanding it's location.

If it seemed like you heard emergency sirens more often in 2012 than years before, it was probably so: the Port Washington Fire Department actually reported a record-high number of fire and ambulance calls in its preliminary statistics data for last year.

The department responded to 1,191 emergency calls, 224 of which were fire calls and 967 were emergency calls, which is the "most calls in the department's history," according to notes from the Police and Fire Commission meeting.

Sometimes extreme weather conditions such as heat emergencies can be pointed to as a reason for increased emergency calls, but Fire Chief Mark Mitchell said there isn't a specific issue like this that can be blamed.

"It fluctuates from year to year, and there's really no rhyme or reason," Mitchell said, adding that 2011 had been a record-setting year, too.

The Port Washington Fire Deparment, founded in 1852, is one of the oldest in the state, Mitchell told the Port Washington Common Council during a department update on Tuesday. It operates with 68 personel as a paid-on-call department, with Mitchell the only full-time employee.

Mitchell told the council the department would like to start talking with the city about it's future, as it will eventually need a second station or just more space in general.

"We've currently outgrown the factility," he said of the station at 104 W. Washington St.

The fact that the number of calls has been increasing may help the situation, given that the increased responses also increases the department's revenue. The department has also been able to take in more money after the addition of its paramedic services in 2011 — meaning it can bill at a higher rate for ambulance calls. 

While this doesn't have an impact on tax payers, it does impact the residents in need of emergency help.

"(The public) usually doesn't want to see us (because) they know if they do, its something that is bad," he said.

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