AURORA — It was another busy year for the city’s fire department in 2018, with fire and emergency medical service calls rising compared to 2017, according to Fire Chief David Barnes’ annual report.

EMS calls rose from 1,675 in 2017 to 1,700, while non-EMS calls were up considerably from 462 in 2017 to 591 in 2018. Overall runs increased from 2,137 in 2017 to 2,291 in 2018, and have ranged from 1,986 to 2,291 in the last five years.

Barnes said fire loss for the year was estimated at $193,525, mostly from house fires on Glen Eden Court and Robinhood Drive and a bathroom blaze on Arrowhead Trail. 

"All were extinguished quickly and there were no injuries," said Barnes.

The department said goodbye to two longtime members — Assistant Chief John Schmader and Capt. Bill Lovell. Schmader retired after more than 39 years of service and Lovell after serving the community for 35 years.

Capt. Matthew McBirney became assistant chief, Lts. Scott Sharp and C.W. Hudson were promoted to captains, firefighters Tony Marotta and Perry Nuccdio became lieutenants and part-time firefighters Josh Sirk and Derrick Benner were hired as full-timers.

A major purchase last year was a rescue squad with a cot loading system. "We also started an iPad cloud based fire and EMS reporting program which allows reporting to be paperless and better tracks our run statistics," said Barnes.

The chief said McBirney and firefighter Stefen Krieger taught several fire extinguisher classes to about 800 employees of business, while firefighter Mike Overholt taught CPR training at the schools and for various groups.

"We certified 608 in either Health Care Provider CPR or Heartsaver AED, and another 176 in first aid by the end of the year," noted Barnes.

IASO evaluated the department and rated it Class 3. The department first obtained that rating five years ago after improving from Class 5. The ratings are used by insurance companies to determine rates.

"Of the 46,000-plus communities assessed by ISO, only 4,974 managed ratings of Class 3 or better," said Barnes.

Firefighters completed a number of monthly EMS training sessions conducted by Dr. Marc Allen and others.

Sessions focused on topics such as concussions, environmental injuries, area trauma cases, medical records, suicide risk assessment, medic well-being, airway management, cardiac-pulmonary anatomy and cardiac arrests in athletes.

According to EMS coordinator Sharp, the department started to record EMS and fire runs on IMS last January. "This is a computer program that moved us away from paper reports and into paperless charting," he said.

"This was a big project for the department, and required continuous training throughout he first few months to get the program off the ground and get the staff proficient with it."

In December, AFD teamed up with University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center, which developed a regional protocol for the department to use in the field.  All the main hospital systems in Northeast Ohio developed these regional protocols.

Other firefighter training sessions focused on pump operators’ proficiency, water rescue, ground ladder operations, forcible entry and roof ventilation, chimney fires and advancing hose lines with a three-man engine company.

AFD participated in water shuttles in Garrettsville, Troy Township, Chagrin Falls and Burton. and helped out the Portage County Fire Investigation Team, which responded to 22 structure fires in 2018.

The fire prevention bureau was a visible entity in the city, overseeing new construction, business openings and modifications to existing buildings. 

The department also participated in educational programs and services such as Firepup, the fire safety house, presentations for groups and schools, the residential lockbox program and Aurora One Fund’s smoke detector installations.

Other activities in which the department participated were Truck Night-National Night Out, Portage County’s None for Under 21, the annual bicycle rodeo, Safety Town, Easter egg hunts, fun runs, holiday tree lighting and the Portage County Randolph Fair.

"We remain committed to providing high-quality emergency medical and fire / rescue services," said Barnes. "We equally plan to remain a productive component in the community through involvement and education."

Reporter Ken Lahmers can be reached at 330-541-9400 Ext. 4189 or