Milford fire calls increase, expected to keep rising

MILFORD — With the number of residents, apartments, buildings and businesses increasing, the Milford Fire Department is anticipating a jump in service calls each year.

Last year the department responded to 9,254 calls, an increase of about 8 percent over 2021's 8,544.

Most calls are for medical service, according to Chief Doug Edo. In 2022, medical calls made up nearly two thirds of the department's calls, 5,857 in all. The increase led the department to add an ambulance to keep up with demand, Edo said.

Some responses also are mutual aid, where Milford responds to assist other departments, said Assistant Chief Anthony Fabrizi.

"Mutual aid responses are included in the overall calls for service, (but) our mutual aid responses are minimal," he said. "It's not common, but we have mutual aid agreements with Stratford and West Haven. But we made 17 mutual aid responses to other cities. So we do acknowledge and respond to mutual aid calls from neighboring towns."

So far this year, the numbers are steady over 2022, with the department responding to 743 calls in January, about the same number as last year, Fabrizi said.

The numbers have been on the rise for the past few years, he said.

"It is starting to increase as the years go on because Milford has seen quite the economic boom in development within our city, and it's still growing," he said. "It is one of the most desirable places to live in the state, our shoreline community. So our call volume is steady and increasing. It has not declined."

Edo said there are just under 22,000 homes in the city, and that number has increased by about 500 in the past year.

Public service requests were the next largest number of calls after EMS.

"Most of the time when people reach out to us, on emergency or non-emergency calls, they are just looking for guidance on certain things," Fabrizi said. "Sometimes they call and say they have an odor in their home, and they're not sure if it's gas or electrical burning, and they need someone to investigate and rule out any potential hazards. So what do they do? They call 911, and the fire department responds."

Public service can also mean things like people locked out of cars or water leaks where the public is asking for help, communication wires down to a car lockout or some type of other things where the public is asking for us like a water leak," said Assistant Fire Chief Chris Waiksnoris.

Of all the calls the fire department responds to, the actual number of fires has remained relatively stable, Edo said. In 2022, the department responded to 877 fire alarms, most of which were false alarms. The department actually responded to 147 fires, which is normal, he said.

"We do get a few fire alarms that detect fires, but many of the fire alarms are false fire alarms," he said.

Some of the fires they respond to can be brush fires, car fires, or fires in the bedroom or kitchen of homes.

"Some fires are larger than others, but we are fortunate that we have a good fire department and knock down these fires quickly," he said.

The last type of call the department regularly answers is calls for service on the water and highways, Fabrizi said.

"Although we are an EMS-based fire service, we are a coastline community, so we have a marine response and respond to water emergencies," he said. "We have miles of highways that traverse our city, so we respond to the highways for not only car accidents but hazards, material spills and such."

Edo said storms also contribute to the call volume.

"When we get a storm, nor'easter, hurricane, or a severe thunderstorm, when we go out the door, that one day, we can have 30 or 40 calls," he said.