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Saskatoon and Regina fire crews respond to more than 900 fire calls in 2021

Saskatoon firefighters have been responding to more than just fires in 2021. Overdoses, mental and overall health calls have increased as well. File Photo/ Global News

Fire departments in Saskatchewan’s two largest cities had a busy year, but not just responding to fire calls.

The Regina Fire & Protective Services and Saskatoon Fire Department have revealed the number of calls they have responded so far this year.

Regina Fire crews have responded to 928 calls for fires so far this year.

“It’s been a very busy year,” said Layne Jackson, Regina Fire Chief. “We’ve seen an increase in our emergency incident calls so that kept our crews busy throughout the year.”

But that’s not what is keeping Regina Fire & Protective Services busy this year. In 2021, the Regina Fire crew have responded to 1,238 suspected drug overdoses so far.

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“We’ve seen an increase for sure in suspected overdose incidents,” said Chief Jackson. “We’ve also seen an increase in the types of fires [that are] high risk and high consequence fires.”

The Regina Fire Chief says the increased call volume takes a toll on their first responders and firefighters.

“It gets wearing and it takes the strain,” he said. “I’m very proud of our emergency responders and our entire team…the quality of service and the professionalism has remained very high through this high-demand period.”

It has been a year where the department’s role in the community is once again expanding to cover a range of emergencies.

Crews were called to more medical situations than fires this past year.

Click to play video: 'Sask. estimates record-breaking year for overdose deaths'
Sask. estimates record-breaking year for overdose deaths

Saskatoon Fire Chief Morgan Hackl says one area where they have seen a drastic increase over a couple of years is overdose calls.

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“Over 21 per cent increase in 2021,” said Hackl. “It’s very concerning. With those overdose calls, over 800 of them.”

Hackl says crews have responded to roughly 20,000 calls in 2021, with 30 per cent of them fire-related.

“That’s a significant jump since 2019,” Hackl said.

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Since 2016, the department has seen 40 per cent more emergency response calls. The rest are vehicle collisions, with a large portion of calls involving people’s medical, mental health and overall well-being.

“Now is the time to care for the homeless, too, with it being winter.”

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