Philomath Fire & Rescue's Station 201 on Main Street in Philomath. (File photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

For those who read the list of fire calls each week or have noticed more sirens in town this summer, you probably realize that local firefighters and emergency medical technicians have been busier than usual.

Yes, it’s true that the number of responses has been increasing and in fact, Philomath Fire & Rescue broke its call volume record last month. Capt. Rich Saalsaa, public information officer, reported 102 calls for service in July, which broke a monthly record that had been set in September 2020.

Fire Chief Tom Miller during a fire district board meeting on Monday said the previous record had been 85 — so the record went up by 17 calls. Miller said 77 of the calls were medical and 25 were categorized as fire calls (although to clarify, not all of those calls are actual fires — the responses include fire alarms, mutual aid calls, public assistance, etc.).

Saalsaa said he could see “no specific reason for the increase that I can point to” and added, “We had the usual uptick in MVCs (motor-vehicle crashes) with travel increasing for summer and small fires, which is also normal for this time of year.”

As of Aug. 10 last year, Fire & Rescue had 511 calls (377 medical and 124 fire calls). This year, the district has responded to 547 calls (433 medical and 114 fire calls). It’s possible that the district could set a new record for most responses in a year.

The statistics provide insight on how busy Philomath Fire & Rescue has been this year, especially in recent weeks. Of course, these are records that we hope will not be broken in the future — behind the calls are real people with medical emergencies and people in dangerous life situations.

(Brad Fuqua is publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He can be reached at

Brad Fuqua, Philomath News

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.