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Fairfax County fire department kept busy in 2021, led by Merrifield engine

Engine 430, Merrifield, was the busiest company in Fairfax County in 2021 (courtesy of Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Twitter)

The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department saw a significant increase in activity in 2021 compared to the previous year.

The honor for busiest company of the year went to Engine 430 based out of Merrifield Station 30, the department shared last week.

Located on Route 29 about a mile west of the Mosaic District, the company responded to 4,510 calls for service, which could range from requests for medical aid from sick or injured people to fire and vehicle crash responses.

The county’s busiest station varies from year to year, with the title going to Station 10 in Bailey’s Crossroads in 2019 and Penn Daw’s Station 11 in Groveton in 2020, according to FCFRD public information officer William Delaney.

Determining why one station might be busier than others can be tricky, he says, requiring extensive data analysis to find possible trends that could still end up being rather abstract or speculative.

“It gets very complicated in that regard,” Delaney told FFXnow. “All I can tell you is they responded to the amount of calls for help that they responded to, and in general, we did have a lot of calls.”

Fairfax County firefighters and paramedics fielded a total of 108,882 calls in 2021 — over 11,000 more than the 96,934 calls received in 2020, the FCFRD reported in January.

The majority of those calls were for emergency medical services, which accounted for 81,049 incidents. There were also 19,474 fire-related calls and 8,359 public service calls.

According to Fire Chief John Butler, the number of medical calls was higher than what the department has seen in the past, but Delaney says it’s difficult to gauge if that trend is related to the pandemic, since responders don’t always know if someone they’re transporting has COVID-19.

“If the hospitals believed we were exposed or stuff like that, certainly we were notified then, but other than that, we don’t have much follow-up,” Delaney said. “…Frankly, during the pandemic, calls have decreased a little bit, and then they’ve increased. There’s really been no rhyme or reason to it.”

As Covid transmission has dropped in the county at large, the FCFRD has seen a decline in cases among its personnel.

At its height on Jan. 2, this winter’s surge sidelined 74 workers, including 67 people who tested positive for COVID-19 and seven others who were quarantined. The limited staffing prompted service adjustments, including the temporary elimination of extra medic units in three stations.

Delaney told FFXnow last Friday (Feb. 18) that the department is now back to regular service levels.

As of Feb. 13, the date of FCFRD’s most recent update, there were three Covid-positive employees with no additional quarantines. A total of 474 personnel have tested positive during the pandemic.

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