Dover Fire Department reports on a busy 2018

DOVER — Dover Mayor Robin R. Christiansen said some people might get annoyed when they hear a shrieking fire whistle go off.

However, for the 80 volunteer firemen from the Dover Fire Department, that sound means that it’s time to stop what they’re doing and spring into action to protect lives and property in and around Dover.

“I think it’s a source of pride that the city of Dover’s fire department is an all-volunteer fire department where people are willing to put down whatever they’re doing and serve their fellow citizens, but also save their fellow citizens’ $9.5 million a year,” Mayor Christiansen said, of the volunteer fire force that he is a proud member of. “I give the guys and gals at the Dover Fire Department a tip of the hat because I think it’s a matter of pride and that’s why we all keep showing up when the whistle blows.”

Ron Rhodes, chief of the Robbins Hose Company (Dover Fire Department) presented the annual department report to members of Dover’s City Council inside council chambers at City Hall on Monday night.

Chief Rhodes noted the Dover Fire Department responded to 1,331 calls for service in 2018, an 8.3 percent increase over 2017, with 156 calls in September and 151 in January marking their busiest months. Tuesday’s were the busiest days with 203 calls for service. Monday’s slowest with 178.

A total of 574 calls (43.16 percent) were for false alarms, while 172 (12.93 percent) were for fires and 123 (9.25 percent) for rescue/EMS operations. Incidents caused by cooking accounted for 78 of the fires while 28 were building fires.

Overall, volunteers from the Dover Fire Department produced 9,509-man hours during calls of service for fire-related incidents in 2018. The majority of the hours (2,607) were spent responding to false alarms while 2,187 hours were spent fighting fires under 2018 Fire Chief Carleton “Buck” Carey Jr.

“False calls take up the majority of our time,” Chief Rhodes said. “Smells and bells, as we call them. The majority of those false alarms are cooking fires … unattended cooking, light smoke in an apartment, or something of that nature.”

Fire department members also amassed almost 4,097 hours in State Fire School and In-House training offered throughout the year.

“The officers, men and women of the Dover Fire Department remain the only state capital in the nation to be protected by a 100 percent volunteer fire department,” Chief Rhodes said. “We stand true and steadfast in providing this city with the finest fire protection in the state. We look forward to a safe and prosperous year working harmoniously with city officials and the mayor and council.”

The fire department’s goals for 2019 are to continue its vigilance in protecting the community from fires, make building improvements to Station 2 off Kenton Road in west Dover — including a new roof — and replace one of its fire trucks.

Chief Rhodes, the son of a past chief who joined the Dover Fire Department in 1975, pointed out firemen who were recently honored for service, including: 2018 Fireman of the Year David Knight; 2018 Firefighter of the Year Luke Sadusky; 2018 Chief’s Award Terry Whitham; Life Member/Past Chief Charles Boyer honored for 60 years of dedicated service and Brian Bashista was presented with a plaque for his past three years of service as president.

Mayor Christiansen knows the dedication that members of the Dover Fire Department have. After all, he has spent more than 40 years as a volunteer firefighter himself. He also knows from a city official’s perspective the amount of money the volunteer department saves the city.

“The latest figures that we (city of Dover) have to provide a 48-staffed fire department, that’s 12 men on a shift which would mean two engines and a ladder, would cost the city of Dover $9.5 million a year,” the mayor said. “There are some people that get upset when the fire whistle goes off. I don’t particularly because that means I have to get up and go help somebody, just the same way as all the other volunteers do.

“It’s just what the Dover Fire Department has always done to help our fellow citizens and our community.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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