A storm in August meant the Lowell Area Fire Department responded to 46 calls for assistance within a two-hour period. That’s just one highlight of third quarter activity from the department. Members also logged hundreds of hours of training, responded to a residential fire and took part in an annual physical agility test and a “confidence course.”
From July to the end of September in 2021, the department responded to 252 incidents, which was down slightly from the 268 calls logged in the second quarter. As of the end of the third quarter, the Lowell Area Fire Department had taken 761 calls for service throughout the year, an increase of 176 calls compared to the same period for 2020.
Third quarter calls broke down as follows:
- Rescue and emergency medical service: 178
- Hazardous condition, no fire: 27
- Good intent call: 14
- Fires: 11
- False alarm and false call: 11
- Service call: 7
- Special incident type: 3
- Overpressure rupture, explosion, overheat – no fire: 1
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. It also assists in other communities when mutual aid is requested.
Third Quarter Calls for Help
An August storm resulted in the most significant flurry of activity for the fire department during the third quarter. Fire Chief Shannon Witherell says 46 calls came in within a two-hour period. Many of those were for trees down and power lines down. However, one was for a structure seen floating in the Flat River. Witherell said the department had all its trucks out responding to calls that day.
Other incidents during the third quarter included a mutual aid call to respond to a residential fire in Cascade Township in September, and firefighters also responded to a small kitchen fire in the city. The department also responded to a gas leak, carbon monoxide incident and had to perform one extrication/rescue during a call to an accident.
Department Members Log 580 Hours of Training
During the third quarter of 2021, Lowell firefighters logged 580 hours of in-house training. Plus, Witherell reported members took part in the following training outside the department:
- 6 members attended Fire 102 training
- 3 members attended EMT school
- 3 command staff members attended a leadership summit
Physical Agility Test and Confidence Course
Each year, members of the Lowell Area Fire Department undergo a timed physical agility test. Among its components are the following:
- Drag and hook-up a fire hose
- Pull a 40lb weight to simulate a ceiling pull
- Move a 150lb mannequin to simulate a rescue
- Carry equipment
- Raise a 14-foot ladder
- Conduct a ladder walk
Firefighter Brad Root had the top time for this year’s test, completing all activities in 5 minutes and 46 seconds. Chief Deputy Corwin Velzen came in second while Captain Sean Donahue rounded out the top three.
In addition to the physical agility test, firefighters also participated in a confidence course. Using simulation boxes brought in from Kentwood, firefighters navigated a course that is designed to test a person’s mind and body. Their mask is blacked out, and they need to work their way through a course that mimics the experience of being in a building with fallen ceilings, exposed wires and more.
“It’s a course designed to be out worst day ever,” Witherell explains.
Other Lowell Area Fire Department Activities
In other news, some members of the fire department took part in the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb which pays tribute to the New York City firefighters who lost their lives during the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Lowell firefighters also met up with Joe Warne who was walking across the state to raise money and awareness for firefighters and first responders who are battling cancer.
As part of an ongoing effort, Lowell firefighters have installed almost 100 smoke detectors and 40 carbon monoxide alarms in area homes. The detectors are made available for free through a partnership with MI Prevention, a state initiative intended to reduce fire fatalities.
Looking forward, the department anticipates some special activities will be planned to celebrate the 160th anniversary of the Lowell Area Fire Department. It was originally founded in 1861 by what was then the Village of Lowell.