BARSTOW The Barstow Fire District is reporting a quiet year overall, with firefighters responding to relatively few large fires.

In 2010 the Fire District responded to 188 fire calls, down eight percent from 2009. Fire District Chief Darrell Jauss said a fall fire at Purcell's Military Surplus on East Main Street this past fall was probably the biggest fire the district responded to all year, and the building was saved.

"Most fires are contained to one room," said Jauss. "We might have one significant fire a month."

More property was saved from fire in 2010, but not because of any giant fires. Total property involved in fires in July 2010 totaled just over $800,000, but Jauss said that total was from a string of blazes.

The arrest of three suspected arsonists over the past year have also helped lessen the number of fires around town, said Assistant Chief Sal Corrao.

While BFPD firefighters participating in strike teams may be called to assist in five to six wildfires throughout the state in a given fire season, they were only called to one in 2010, and the call was canceled before reaching the fire.

Jauss said wet weather in the spring kept wildfires to a minimum.

"We didn't have as many this year, a few big ones, there was one in Chino, but I think the wet weather kept fires down," said Jauss. "That's a good thing, especially in these (economic) times."

BFPD Strike Teams are usually called to assist in wildfires in northern and central California, and reimbursed by state or federal governments.

BFPD Paramedics respond to every 911 medical call that comes in to dispatch, heading out to 2,978 calls in 2010, roughly the same as 2009.

Jauss said the Fire District hasn't made any significant changes over the past year, and listed the formerly independent BFPD becoming a subsidiary district of the City of Barstow as the year's biggest accomplishment. The BFPD joined forces with the city for financial stability and potential cost savings by sharing resources.

The BFPD currently employs 15 paid call firefighters.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4126 or adome@desertdispatch.com