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Small Mass. fire station named one of the busiest in the U.S.

Brockton’s Squad A Rescue Unit went out 5,178 times over the course of the year, more than New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles


By Anna Burgess
The Enterprise

BROCKTON, Mass. — Despite serving a city with fewer than 100,000 people, the Brockton Fire Department is one of the busiest in the country.

Brockton's Squad A Rescue Unit responded to more calls in 2016 than any other heavy rescue unit in the country, according to Firehouse Magazine's 2016 national run survey of 248 departments.

The Brockton unit went out 5,178 times over the course of the year, more than the busiest heavy rescue units in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Brockton's Ladder Company #1 was also near the top for number of runs made by ladder companies, and Brockton's Station 1 ranked as the 33rd-busiest fire station in the country.

"There are departments throughout the country and the state that don't do the numbers we do," Williams said. "In a way, it means a sense of pride for a lot of the guys."

At the same time, Williams said, "on certain days, it really does take a toll on them."

Brockton's Ladder 1 responded to 4,880 calls in 2016.

This was the seventh-highest number in the country, according to Firehouse Magazine, and beat out ladder companies in much larger cities, like Boston and Chicago.

Williams said the number of calls for Ladder Company #1 and Squad A has been "slowly rising, year by year, over the past 10 years."

"I'm not really surprised," he said. "It's just the area of town that they're in, with the homeless populations, the drug epidemic, and the neighborhood health center, they get a lot of calls."

In 2016, the department responded to a total of 25,310 incidents. Squad A responded to more than 20 percent of these incidents, and Ladder 1 responded to nearly 20 percent of them.

July and August were the busiest months of 2016 for Squad A, Ladder 1, and the department overall.

In July, Brockton firefighters responded to 2,316 incidents, and in August, to 2,280 incidents.

The department responded to the fewest incidents of the year in February, when firefighters only went out to 1,801 calls.

The fire department is consistently one of the biggest sections of the city budget, but it doesn't always get funded as requested.

Going into fiscal 2016, for instance, the fire department submitted a budget request of $27 million, but was ultimately given a budget of $23 million.

Williams said he would "love to have more men, like any fire chief, anywhere," but he understands the financial constraints of the city.

"It isn't about needing to hire more firefighters," he said. "We work with what we have."

Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter was not available for comment on Monday.

Some days--and some months--are harder than others, Williams said, "but the guys are really used to it."

He said many Brockton firefighters, especially the younger ones and those newer to the department, want to be busy, and like being downtown with plenty to respond to.

At the same time, Williams said he'd like to see the number of calls level off or decline in the next few years.

"If it continued to grow and grow," he said, "it would probably overwhelm those two companies."

Copyright 2017 The Enterprise

McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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