Higher call volumes hitting Fresno fire department

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Fresno's city council has been helping the department recuperate some of the lost staff, and the recruits are coming at a much-needed time after a 3.6 percent jump in calls in the last two years. (KFSN)

On any given shift, you can catch Capt. Santos Solorio and the rest of his men running and gunning to an average of 10 calls a day.

"It's been stressful since day one," he said.

Station 3 is one of the busiest places to work in Fresno. Every year, the workload continues to climb as the department struggles to hire more people.

"Of course, we want to grow the department," Fresno fire chief Kerri Donis said. "But we have to be mindful of the economic conditions."

Donis says city council has been helping them to recuperate some of the staff, and the recruits came at a much-needed time. The drought in recent years caused more vegetation fires while creating fuel for arsonists.

"We jumped for 416 to 502 last year, and we also jumped in arrests," she said. "So, there's quite a fire problem in the city."

Last year, the department brought on 33 new firefighters. At the same time, the number of calls also jumped 3.6 percent from 2015.

"We have hired three more classes, but at the same time we have retirements," Solorio said. "So, they just offset some of those retirements, and the call volume is a lot higher than in previous years."

Solorio says this year will only be busier than the last as a wet winter will cause weeds to grow out of control. But he says luckily, with the new recruits there will be an additional person on the engine.

"It's so much easier just working with four guys," he said. "It's a lot easier, not just fires but medical aids."

It's more help and another set of eyes to help them fight disasters on the scene.

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