Saskatoon Fire Department sees spike in service calls in 2023

April 5, 2024

Saskatoon Fire Department reports increase in emergency responses

The Saskatoon Fire Department (SFD) experienced a significant uptick in calls for service in 2023, responding to 25,176 incidents.

This represents a 57% increase compared to the figures from 2019.

The data, revealed in the SFD’s 2023 Year in Review, was presented to the city’s environment, utilities, and corporate services committee meeting this week, highlighting the growing demands on the fire service.

Since 2019, when there were 16,029 calls for service, the number of incidents has been on a steady rise.

The department noted a 15% increase in calls compared to 2022 and emphasized the 57% surge over the past four years.

Types of emergency calls show diverse challenges

The report outlined a shift in the nature of incidents the fire crews have been tackling, with significant rises noted in fire suppression efforts and other services.

Notably, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) calls surged past 11,000 last year, a stark increase from under 7,000 in 2019.

The majority of these EMS calls involved situations of unconsciousness or fainting, breathing issues, chest pain, and overdosing or poisoning, pointing to a broad spectrum of public health emergencies.

Further analysis revealed that across the top 10 types of EMS calls, there was a uniform increase from the previous year.

In addition to emergency responses, the SFD’s engagement with the community included 1,020 interactions with homeless individuals, with 366 people being offered access to community supports.

Community outreach and fire damage assessment

The prevalence of homeless encampments was another concern, with such sites discovered in 60 of Saskatoon’s 66 neighborhoods.

The report also highlighted the collection of 15,697 discarded needles in the year, underscoring the ongoing public health challenges.

The department’s Overdose Outreach Team was particularly active, distributing 941 naloxone kits throughout the city.

This effort was part of a broader strategy to mitigate the impact of drug overdoses, including referrals to mental health and addiction services, housing support, and naloxone training.

In terms of fire impact, the report estimated that property and infrastructure worth $80.48 million were affected by fires in 2023.

The financial toll from fire damage was calculated at $7.75 million, reflecting the economic implications of the increased fire incidents.

FSJA Comment

The Saskatoon Fire Department’s report for 2023 reveals a challenging year for the service, marked by a substantial increase in call volumes and a diverse range of emergency situations.

The data highlights not only the critical role of fire departments in responding to fires and medical emergencies but also their involvement in addressing broader societal issues, such as homelessness and substance abuse.

The significant rise in EMS calls, in particular, underscores the intersection of public health and emergency services, illustrating the complex challenges these responders face daily.

The report’s focus on community outreach, including naloxone distribution and support for homeless individuals, reflects a proactive approach to public safety and health.

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