As of the end of June 2022, the Lowell Fire Department was on pace with its call numbers from last year. During the first two quarters of the year, firefighters responded to 501 calls, down just five from 2021.
From April-June 2022, the department responded to 257 calls, which broke down into the following categories:
- Rescue and emergency medical service: 184
- Good intent call: 21
- Service call: 15
- False alarm and false call: 13
- Hazardous condition, no fire: 12
- Fire: 12
In total, firefighters spent 522 man-hours responding to these calls.
The Lowell Area Fire Department covers a service area that includes the City of Lowell, Vergennes Township and the section of Lowell Charter Township running from the city limits south to I-96. However, the department will assist in other communities when mutual aid is requested.
During the second quarter of 2022, the department responded to incidents in the following jurisdictions:
- Cascade Township – 1 call requiring 0.5 man-hours
- City of Lowell – 109 calls requiring 105 man-hours
- Lowell Township – 85 calls requiring 253 man-hours
- Vergennes Township – 62 calls requiring 162 man-hours
Second Quarter Cases
Among the second quarter cases was a tragic call involving a trench collapse in Lowell Township. Two men were putting in a drainage system for a barn being constructed when the trench collapsed on one man. The other entered the trench to provide assistance but was also trapped.
Eleven members of the Lowell Area Fire Department assisted with recovery at the scene for six hours. One victim had been a long-time member of the Alto Fire Department, and the honor guard from the Lowell department participated in his funeral.
On a Friday in April, there was a fire at the apartment building just south of the Hudson Street bridge over the Grand River. Fire Chief Shannon Witherell notes that all three apartments were occupied at the time, and with wind bringing fire across the roof, it gave the impression of heavy fire involvement on the second floor.
Fortunately, it ended up that most of the damage was on the back deck. It is believed smoking may have been the cause.
In another fire in Lowell Township, firefighters responded in June to a report of a vehicle on fire outside a garage. The vehicle had a full gas tank but was put out with assistance from the Cascade and Alto Fire Departments.
Witherell says brush fire calls have been fairly light this year, but he did need to institute a burn ban at the end of June because of the hot, dry weather. Rain eventually arrived, and the ban was lifted before the Fourth of July.
Training Exercises at Lowell Middle School
In addition to responding to calls, Lowell firefighters spent 690.5 hours in training.
That included two days spent at Lowell Middle School prior to the demolition of the front wing as part of a planned renovation. During those two days, firefighters practiced search and rescue scenarios as well as forcible entry exercises.
“It afforded some pretty unique opportunities,” Witherell says. The department rarely gets access to a school or commercial building to do this type of training, and the fire chief appreciated the school district making it possible.
Although not training per se, the fire department has also participated in six prescribed agricultural burns in the past year. These are done in collaboration with other fire departments and are a good way to rehabilitate habit to be more hospitable for bees, ducks and other wildlife. Approximately 150 acres was improved as a result of these burns.
Community Events, Past and Future
So far in 2022, the Lowell Area Fire Department has participated in a number of community outreach activities. Those included a special sensory-friendly showing of Paw Patrol at the Ada Lowell 5, visits from Murray Lake Elementary students and the Safety Town program at Impact Church. At various locations and times, firefighters have also passed out bike flags to children as part of the Riding for Ryan program.
The honor guard was part of the Lowell Memorial Day Parade and the Ada Fourth of July Parade.
In the weeks and months to come, the Lowell Area Fire Department will take part in the Fallasburg Arts Festival and the annual wacky water night at Vergennes Methodist Church. Residents should also mark their calendar for October 29 when the department will once again host an open house and trunk-or-treat event at the fire station.