Casper fire chief Kenny King told Casper City Council members that 2014 will be a year of some concern within Casper Fire-EMS, but also said 2013 was a year that many within his department were proud of.

King presented the department’s annual report for 2013 during council’s work session on Tuesday. He says, with service call volume reaching the all-time record high of 6,614 last year, he’s primarily worried about keeping staffing levels consistent with Casper’s expected population growth.

“We’re doing two calls at a time right at 35 percent of the time now,” King said. “We really haven’t grown as a fire department in 33 years – we’re operating with the same number of firefighters that we’ve had for the last 33 years.”

According to the report, the department currently employs 77 people, 43 of whom are either firefighters or fire engineers. Casper Fire-EMS fielded 6,491 emergency calls in 2012 and 6,094 emergency calls in 2011.

However, King says there were many more positives in 2013 than negatives. One of those positives: The department’s average emergency response time of 4 minutes, 53 seconds.

“That time is really based on the fact that we have dispatch computer screens at our fingertips with our iPhones and TV monitors at the fire stations and in our fire trucks,” King said. “It allows us to get a jump on the call before actually being dispatched.”

King says, nationally, the average response time is roughly six or seven minutes.