FIREFIGHTERS: 10 structure fires, 71 crashes in 2015

By Jason Hawk -

Firefighters were kept busy with 508 calls in 2015, according to numbers provided by Amherst fire chief Greg Knoll.

Records show fire calls continued an upward pattern from 481 in 2014 and 422 in 2013. Though there was a jump in activity, Knoll characterized the past year as average.

There were 10 structure fires totalling an estimated $683,500 in damages, ranging from small office fires to barn blazes to two homes. Luckily, they resulted in no deaths.

Firefighters also rushed to help at 71 crashes, which included four vehicles on fire, two extrications in which trapped occupants were pulled free, and $108,500 worth of damage.

Knoll said construction on the Ohio Turnpike contributed to increased call-outs for crashes.

Otherwise, it was a normal year for firefighters, with one exception: “We didn’t have a high wind event come through or the possibility of a tornado where we ran 10 or 15 calls in an hour,” the chief said.

A large bulk of his crews’ runs last year — 151 of them — were for first responder calls, mainly for medical incidents.

To lower those risks, Knoll and Lt. John Tomlinson plan to emphasize basic safety this year, especially with older residents.

For example, many devastating falls could be avoided if seniors would call a friend to help change light bulbs and smoke detector batteries rather than climbing up high themselves, Knoll said.


Other call totals for Amherst firefighters in 2015 included:

• 71 false alarms

• 33 calls for smoke and odors

• 26 electrical-related responses

• 22 miscellaneous service calls

• 18 investigations into unknown circumstances

• 16 open burning cases

• 16 carbon dioxide incidents

• 13 gas leaks

• 11 grass and brush calls

• 6 hazardous materials incidents

• 2 trash calls

• 1 bomb scare

The call total breaks down to 435 in the city limits and another 73 in Amherst Township.

It could have been worse. While we enjoyed a routine firefighting year in Amherst, in the southern portion of the county, Wellington firefighters sadly had a record year with nine roadway deaths.

There was also a Brighton Township house fire in which the body of Eric Zaffer was discovered, leading to a homicide investigation; and in November roughly $500,000 in damage was done when Carter Lumber went up in flames on US 20, lighting the sky for miles around.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

By Jason Hawk