Roanoke Fire-EMS meets benchmarks despite challenging year

Published: Apr. 19, 2021 at 8:36 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - During a year like no other, the men and women of Roanoke Fire-EMS rose to the challenge.

Monday, Chief David Hoback delivered his annual public safety update, and told members of City Council the department met important benchmarks in 2020, while responding to the pandemic.

It was a roller coaster ride. With the pandemic lockdown came a sharp drop in calls. A substantial rise followed as the community began to re-open.

“As we started seeing COVID really ramp up in November and December, our volume really substantially went up and we actually had to put another medic unit on to be able to keep up with that demand for service,” Hoback told WDBJ7.

COVID also contributed to an increase in the number of significant fires.

With more people at home, the department saw more cooking fires. And Hoback said there was another contributor: the number of homeless people who were staying away from shelters.

“And they were in abandoned or vacant buildings and through warming fires or cooking fires, they set those buildings on fire,” he said.

Despite the challenge of responding to an emerging pandemic, Hoback said the department met important benchmarks including fast response times.

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