OCFD Report Details 2022 Service Calls, Response Times

OCFD Report Details 2022 Service Calls, Response Times
Photo by Chris Parypa

OCEAN CITY – Data on service calls, response times and community programs highlighted the Ocean City Fire Department’s annual presentation to the Mayor and Council.

On Monday, Fire Chief Richie Bowers and representatives of the Ocean City Fire Department (OCFD) presented the Mayor and Council with the agency’s 2022 annual report.

Bowers told officials the report – a collaborative effort among the department’s career, volunteer and fire marshal divisions – highlighted the Mayor and Council’s investments in recent years. He pointed to the hiring of additional personnel, which will allow the OCFD to roll out a new deployment model next month.

“We hope to be able to see that the fire and EMS calls are attended to by units that do not place our units out of service and unavailable,” he explained. “With that deployment model, we hope to be able to really make a dent.”

In 2022, the department responded to 6,524 calls for service. Bowers noted, however, that the department continued to face challenges.

“Our key challenge over the last couple of years – and we have talked to the council about this – is our COVID response,” he said. “We’re still taking people to the hospital with COVID, with RSV, which is really hitting our youngest population, and certainly flu A and B.”

As a result, he said equipment decontamination has impacted the department.

“It really takes a lot of time now because of the things I just mentioned …,” he said. “It does place our units out of service a little bit longer.”

Bowers added that the OCFD also faced staffing challenges, as well as recruitment and retention issues. He noted, however, that the department has recently introduced an academy for part-time hires.

“I’m very happy to say we have six in that class and a number more applicants forthcoming,” he said. “Things are looking good with some of the efforts we’ve made with recruitment and retention. We are getting quality candidates, which I’m very happy to say.”

Officials also highlighted EMS response times. Bowers explained the national average response time is five minutes, 90% of the time.

“When we get a call, and it’s processed for dispatch, we need to get there within five minutes or less, 90% of the time,” he said. “I’m happy to tell you our response time is four minutes, 27 seconds, and sometimes a lot sooner than that.”

During council comments, Councilman Tony DeLuca questioned the department’s response times. He said he remembered them being less than four minutes in years past.

“I always tell everybody, if you live in Ocean City, it’s under four minutes. If you move to Delaware, with lower taxes, it’s 30,” he said. “So I know that five is the standard. But if you check, I believe in the last report you were under four.”

Bowers noted that response times varied from year to year.

“I think we’re pretty consistent with the five minutes, 90% of the time,” he said. “But it goes up and down depending on the summer activity and the shoulder season.”

Officials this week also highlighted training and cardiac arrest data, as well as community events held in 2022.

They said they visited 222 homes last year and hosted 163 kids through the department’s fire camps.

“We’ve found that the fire camps have been beneficial as a different way for us to start recruitment, capturing the children at a younger age before they decide what they want to do in high school,” said OCFD Community Engagement Officer Ryan Whittington. “We can get them on the public safety track.”

Bowers added that the department also reached more than 700 kids through fire prevention education initiatives.

“It doesn’t stop there, but that’s where it starts,” he said. “And I really believe that’s tremendous.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.