The Hyattsville Volunteer Fire Department turns 125 this coming October, but its 124th year has already gone down in the history books as its busiest year ever.
HVFD units responded to more calls than ever before, with 6,219 unit responses in 2012. This is the first year the department has ever responded to more than 6,000 calls. The previous most active year for the department was in 2010, when units responded to 5,947 incidents. In 2011, the department saw action on 5,714 responses.
The engine company responded to 1,522 incidents in 2012, marking its second busiest year in history. The truck company responded to 515 calls.
The ambulance company responded to 3,700 incidents in 2012. Much of this increase was the result of a change in the way the county deploys rescue and medical services to fires, according to HVFD officials.
"Overall ambulance responses have increased annually and are more than double since 1999. In 2012, a change in county dispatch policy added a [basic life support] ambulance to the initial dispatch on most structure fire assignments, adding to the call volume," reads a release on the HVFD website.
The HVFD rescue squad, which was out of service for 45 days this year, responded to 420 calls.
The new paramedic ambulance service at the station, in place for less than a year now, saw 26 responses during roughly a dozen service shifts, according to the release. The utility truck responded to 38 calls.
The vast majority–more than 80 percent–of the responses run from the HVFD are operated by the station's all-volunteer crews, which operate on nights and weekends. Career fire, rescue and medical crews operate out of the station during business hours.
As the station looks forward to its quasquicentennial year celebrations, there will also be more somber history to remember. On Saturday, March 16, the department will gather in memorey of volunteer fire fighter Alan Sondej, who died on that day 25 years ago from burns suffered during a house fire in January 1988. They will also remember the 60th anniversary of the deaths of fire fighters John Streets and William Stainback who died in Oct. 1958 when the ladder truck involved in a auto-wreck.
The memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. at St. Jerome's Church.