HANCEVILLE — The numbers are in, and they show that Hanceville’s four-employee fire department saw its busiest year ever in 2019, responding to more calls than at any time in the city’s 140-year history.
Assistant fire chief Bart Absher briefed the Hanceville City Council on a by-the-numbers year in review Thursday at the council’s regular meeting, reporting a total of 1,301 inbound calls during the period between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 of last year.
That’s 151 more than the 1,150 calls the department received in 2018 — a year that fire officials considered busy when they recapped the numbers in January of last year. “It was the busiest year we ever had — in history; not just since chief [Roger] Green took over,” Absher said of the 2019 totals.
The vast majority of calls to the fire department last year were for medical assistance. The department responded to 967 medical calls in 2019, greatly outpacing all other call types. Service calls (106) and calls to address medical and other issues at the municipal jail (105) rang in as the next most in-demand categories, with motor vehicle crashes (71) following close behind.
In all, the department responded to 52 structure fires — an average of one per week — last year. But, as with all call types, there were almost as many instances (51) when the department’s assortment of paid employees and volunteers had to respond to two calls simultaneously. The department also responded 37 times to mutual aid requests to provide backup firefighting support when other departments in Cullman and Blount Counties sounded the alarm.
Comparing Hanceville’s call and response volume against other small cities in the region, Absher told the council that as Hanceville grows, its leaders may also need to think about how to keep fire services operating at a level that allows the department to continue its record of responding to every call. “We did not miss a call in 2019,” he said. “But there were only two months when we did not exceed 100 calls per month.”