Excerpts from MySuburbanLife.com:

[For] the Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Fire Protection District, EMS responses continue to outweigh fire responses, as they have since at least 2001, according to data from the district. Then, medical calls represented 53 percent of the total responses, whereas they made up 68 percent in 2012. Meanwhile, fire responses declined from 47 percent of the total to 32 percent in that time.

In Crystal Lake, the fire and rescue department, which integrated fire and EMS services in 1980, reported almost two times the number of EMS calls last year compared to the year 2000, and only 56 fire calls in 2014 compared to 169 in 2003.

The local data mirror those of agencies nationwide, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Figures from an association survey indicate a 58.5 percent decrease in fire calls from 1980 to 2013. On the medical aid side, calls shot up 323 percent in that same time frame.

“In terms of the decrease in fire calls, as a country we are becoming much more fire safe,” said Kenneth Willette, manager of the association’s public fire protection division.  “We see the impact of modern fire codes in commercial and industrial buildings, requiring better fire detention and suppression systems – all of these things have made the country more fire safe.”

And as the Bureau of Labor Statistics points out, the aging population is expected to be a factor in firefighter employment growth. The bureau has projected the role to grow 7 percent from 2012 to 2022 as elderly people typically use more emergency medical services.

Woodstock Fire Chief Ralph Webster did say officials there have been mulling the possibility of reallocating some of the existing personnel to address the shift. “We’re currently having discussions about putting additional resources toward handling the emergency medical calls and siphoning off resources dedicated to fire apparatus,” Webster said. “The primary reason we’re looking at that is because our job has changed.


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