Fire: Calls to the fire department have increased from pandemic lows. File photo

The Santa Monica Fire Department (SMFD) responded to thousands of emergency calls in 2021, with “rescue & emergency medical service incidents” making up the largest share of the department’s activities for the year.

SMFD Fire Captain Patrick Nulty said calls in were beginning to pick up from the 2020 lull.

“Our call volume dropped significantly during 2020 in the height of the pandemic, which is a trend seen across the area,” Nulty wrote in an email to the Daily Press. “Normally we average 17,000 calls per year, and in 2020 we had a little over 14,000. We have steadily picked back up since then, but are not completely back to normal, although for 2021 we are on pace to return to pre-pandemic incident numbers.”

Over the course of the calendar year, a total of 16,171 calls went out to the SMFD, with the majority — 10,907 — being rescues and EMS incidents. There were also 2,141 “good intention” calls.

“‘Good Intent Call’ refers to many things but the simplest way to describe them is — nothing was found upon our arrival, such as a smell of smoke with no known source which might dissipate before the fire engine arrives,” Nulty explained.

Over the course of the year, 1,331 false alarms and false calls were reported. Another 987 were calls for service, meaning anything from a water leak to a stuck elevator to a fire hydrant struck by a vehicle.

SMFD responded to 343 fires, 403 hazardous condition reports (excluding fires), 17 “overpressure rupture, explosion, overheat” calls (excluding fires) and just one severe weather call, which went out in December.

The month with the most incident reports was October, when a total of 1,500 calls came into the fire department. The quietest month was February, with 1,103 calls for service.

Nulty also shared that there were several significant events in the course of the year, including an Oct. 3 traffic collision at the 1100 block of Pacific Coast Highway (near the entrance to Beach Parking Lot 4 North) in which there were 13 patients. Fortunately, no fatalities were reported in that accident.

The collision occurred at about 3 a.m. on Oct. 3, when a party bus crashed into another vehicle, according to Daily Press reporting at the time. The crash sent one passenger from the other vehicle to the hospital, while several passengers in the bus sustained minor injuries. That incident closed the freeway at 4th Street for the duration of the investigation. SMPD said at the time that the driver of the bus had fled the scene prior to officers arriving and the passengers provided very little information regarding the driver.

There were fatal traffic collisions reported on Aug. 14 and May 5. On Sept. 22, SMFD responded to a drowning at the Pier.

An April 29 gas main break at the 1100 block of Stanford Avenue lasted approximately three days and displaced about 400 households, Nulty reported.

According to Daily Press reporting at the time, at about noon on April 29, a private contractor struck a 16-inch natural gas main on Stanford Street near Washington Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard while trying to install fiber optic lines. Because of the danger of electric transformers creating sparks that could ignite the gas, power was cut to the neighborhood until repairs were completed.

Nulty also highlighted a significant structure fire at the Goodwill store at Santa Monica Boulevard and 26th Street on Oct. 4. Though firefighters were able to save a residential building located next door to the Goodwill store, but the business was a complete loss, according to Daily Press reporting at the time.

Santa Monica firefighters were also deployed in mutual aid strike teams to large-scale wildland fires elsewhere in California, Nulty described, including the Clador, Dixie, River, Beckworth and Salt fires.