FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) Since 1904 the Fairbanks Fire Department has served the community by providing medical and fire services. The station is a full-time career department, meaning that all of the staff is fully paid. Fairbanks Fire is also the busiest station in the Fairbanks area, receiving 15 calls a day on average.
The Fairbanks Fire Department is the busiest in the interior. (John Dougherty/KTVF)
“I believe we are almost all of the borough -- other departments combined -- just by the location and being the main center of the city... and that most of the borough comes into the city every day to shop, work and go to school and stuff,” said Battalion Chief Scott Raygor.
This year the department expects to break 6,000 calls, a record high.
“We are increasing about 10% a year every year,” Raygor said.
To deal with this high volume of calls, the department has to delegate, either by taking resources from one call and sending them directly to another call, or by relying on mutual aid from other departments. When they run out of people everywhere, Raygor said they have to stack calls, working on the biggest emergencies first before going to other calls. Fortunately, this only happens a few times a month.
A majority of the calls that Fairbanks Fire Department responds to are for medical care. According to Raygor, around 80% of calls are for medical assistance, with the other 20% being for fires, accidents and electrical problems.
Kevin Johnson is a firefighter and paramedic with the Fairbanks Fire Department.
“In comparison to working other places, it’s so much faster paced. You get a lot more on the job experience then you would in another department. It’s great,” Johnson said.
One of the benefits of being so busy is that they get to practice their skills more often. Johnson said that working at other departments you sometimes get rusty, but at FFD you use your skills every week.
However, being so busy also has downsides. Johnson said that sometimes it cuts into training.
As Fairbanks continues to grow, the department comes up with new ways to deal with the increased demand. Johnson said FFD is a staple in the community and that it’s an honor to work with the oldest department in Fairbanks.
Copyright 2019 KTVF. All rights reserved.