SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Emergency calls at the Walden’s Creek Volunteer Fire Department have increased by about 63% (115 calls) from January to June due to an increase of people coming into the area, according to Chief Asst. Steve Schmidt.

“Folks come to the mountains from you know, populated Metro-type city environments. They’re not used to doing outside fires, they’re not used to doing inside fires,” Schmidt said.

Walden’s Creek Volunteer Fire Department provided stats on the percentage of calls that were received:

  • Emergency medical services: 28.97%
  • Good intent or CXL enroute: 16.90%
  • Public service assistance calls: 16.55%
  • False alarm calls: 13.45%
  • Brush, grass, or wildland fires: 12.76%
  • Structure fires: 6.90%
  • Weather or hazardous conditions: 3.10%
  • Vehicle fires: 0.69%
  • Rescue calls: 0.69%

The department is expecting about 600 calls by the end of the year. However, that hasn’t stopped them from trying to find ways to help.

The fire administrator for Sevier County is helping with creating educational programs with the Homeowners Association to talk about wildfire mitigation to help decrease the risk of starting a fire.

“We’ve got a great group of people that we work within the community,” Schmidt said. “We also [help with] installations of smoke detectors in homes, only for those homes that have actual residents here in the area. That helps too. That gives us and gives the folks a good peace of mind that we’re doing something to help reduce any types of calls that are coming in.”

Schmidt added that the calls also are reported to the National Fire Incident Reporting System.

“For 2022, our total fire-related calls, which includes vehicle fires, structure, fires, brush, grass and wildland fires was at 20.3%,” he said. “But in 2019, of all the reported calls to NFIRS, 3.8% were fire-related. So we are well above the curve.”

The department also reminds the community that they’re a volunteer station and has been 100% responsive to every call for the last three years, according to Schmidt.