WESTFIELD, Ind. – Firefighters in Westfield are facing a growing number of calls as the area grows, but the department says it is struggling to keep up.

City of Westfield Fire Department Chief Rob Gaylor said the number of calls his department receives seems to be steadily increasing each year, and it has been for several years. The number of calls dipped in 2020 but made a very sharp increase in 2021.

Chief Gaylor said the department would receive between 1,400 to 1,700 calls a year when he started nearly two decades ago. Now calls range beyond 4,000 or more a year. Gaylor said the department could receive between 4,000 and 5,200 calls by the end of this year.

“Now they’re just coming in more frequently than they used to,” Chief Gaylor said. “It’s a challenge.”

His department analyzes the calls to see what trends they can find. Gaylor said his medic units are especially stretched thin.

“We’ve only got two,” he said. “[When] both of our medic units are out, then somebody else has to come in and provide that service. We’re going to ask to put another medic unit in service next year.”

Chief Gaylor hopes a third medic unit will reduce the burden that the two current medic units are facing. He said the two units would each respond to between 1,500 and 1,600 calls last year. A third unit would help reduce the amount of time it takes to get to an emergency, Gaylor said.

“We can get to that problem faster to help mitigate whatever it is,” he said. “In a cardiac event, time is muscle, so obviously if we get there faster the outcome is so much better.”

Gaylor said departments in Hamilton County have a very strong working relationship, and right now his department often relies on surrounding agencies for help.

“We want our citizens to be protected by our fire department, and not rely so heavily on other organizations,” he said. “If we’re relying on our neighbors to come in, then who’s covering their back when they have a call?”

Gaylor said his department always helps return the favor to surrounding agencies when it can.

The chief hopes to add another station next year, and possibly two new stations within the next five years.

Gaylor said other nearby agencies with similar call volumes have between five and seven stations, meanwhile his only has three. He said new stations and more personnel would help tremendously.

“I think it’s time for us to grow to help us cover that call volume better,” Gaylor said. “And to add those resources in the county, not only does it benefit the City of Westfield, but it will benefit everyone around. We have more engines and more companies to pull from when there is that event that requires multiple departments.”

The Westfield Fire Department is seeking a 16% budget increase to receive these additional resources. Chief Gaylor said next year’s budget will be proposed in September, and then approved sometime around October.

The department also has a few firefighters retiring in the next few months, which will also require the department to focus on hiring additional personnel.