The department responded to 10,344 calls in 2011, said Deputy Fire Chief Joey Pelfrey.
“We have already surpassed that number [in 2012],” he said.
Firefighters had a total of 868 call responses in November, according to a news release from the department. Of those 557 were for Fire Rescue and Emergency Medical Services, according to the release.
“Around 80 percent of calls are health calls,” Pelfrey said.
Only 6 percent, totaling 56, of November responses were for the more traditional calls to respond to fires and explosions. Firefighters also responded to 20 calls about hazardous conditions, such as downed power lines; 77 “service calls,” which included lockouts, smoke or odor removal and unauthorized burning; 105 “good intent calls” for smoke scares and controlled burning; and 45 false calls.
The fire department has 133 employees, with 111 of them being firefighters, Pelfrey said. They are divided among 11 stations, and three different shifts, he said. This leaves 37 firefighters working at all times. There are a minimum of two firefighters working at each station, with the stations that services more calls having more on duty, Pelfrey said.
The stations have specific geographic areas they cover, and if one station is busy they have back up stations to respond to their areas, he said. When multiple calls come in firefighters will respond to calls based on life safety priority, Pelfrey said.
“We have some of the best trained staff in the state,” he said.
All of the firefighters are career employees. Paulding County does not use volunteers, Pelfrey said. The staff is constantly training, and making sure all equipment is up to standards.
They check all the fire hydrants in the county twice a year, Pelfrey said. In November 1,021 hydrants were serviced, according to the news release.
The department has grown significantly in 16 years with only six paid employees in 1996 when Pelfrey began, he said.
Firefighters also spend their time educating residents around the county. The department has educated 11,087 residents in fire safety from January through November, according to the news release.
The firefighters also spend their time preplanning for calls. They ride around and get familiar with buildings and stores so when they are called there is no question about the location of hydrants or if there is hazardous material inside, Pelfrey said.