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Yakima Fire Department getting hundreds more calls per year, staff trying to keep up

Yakima Fire Department getting hundreds of more calls a year, staff trying to keep up.

YAKIMA, Wash.- The Yakima Fire Department had 372 more emergency calls in 2017 compared to 2016.

That's adding more than a call a day to the already thousands of them firefighters get throughout the year.

While that may not seem like a huge increase, Jeff Pfaff with the Yakima Fire Department said it has left a toll on those who answer these calls from people in need of help.

“We see them, our guys can feel them. They are up a few more times in the evening, but as those numbers slowly increase other things get pushed off a little bit. Training, going out and doing pre-fires and things of that sort,” he said.

Since 2013, there has been a steady increase of emergency calls in Yakima to the record setting total of 9,690 in 2017.

That's around a 15 percent increase in five years.

The city recently added three firefighters to the 90 they already had.

Yakima City Manager Cliff Moore said they were able to add them because of a federal grant and it'll help keep stations full when some firefighters are away.

“It helps us make sure that all of our various fire stations are fully staffed and ready to respond to the community at a moment’s notice,” he said.

However, fires aren't the only type of calls each station gets.

Of the almost 10,000 responses, only around 600 of them were related to fires.

Around 6,000 of them were for car crashes and medical emergencies.

So, while the three-extra firefighter will help with about six percent of call-outs, Pfaff said they need more.

“We try to make sure that these engines are fully staffed 24/7 so by having those three extra bodies it does help the crew, but it doesn't help with those responses,” he said.

If the trend continues, Yakima could be up over 10,000 calls with only 93 firefighters to deal with them by the end of 2018.

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