St. John’s Fire District responds to record number of calls in 2022

Serving Johns Island, Kiawah Island and nearby West Ashley and North Charleston, the St. John’s Fire District responded to 3,972 incidents in 2022.
Published: Feb. 3, 2023 at 3:54 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 3, 2023 at 11:18 PM EST
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JOHNS ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - Serving Johns Island, Kiawah Island and nearby West Ashley and North Charleston, the St. John’s Fire District responded to 3,972 incidents in 2022.

The majority of those calls were actually related to emergency medical services, according to the district’s annual report. Fire Chief Ryan Kunitzer says people often don’t realize the variety of calls the fire department works on.

“When you call 911, if you’re having an emergency, medical, whether it’s maybe a heart attack or a slip and fall you’re usually going to receive a fire truck and an ambulance as well, too. So, most of our firefighters are EMT to the basic level which takes many, many hours of training as well. And then we also have paramedics as well which has more advanced training can perform more lifesaving maneuvers,” Kunitzer said.

Out of the 3,972 incidents, more than 2,000 were EMS rescues while only about 150 were fire. Kunitzer said the island population and visitor numbers are growing, and while the number of fire issues have been steady over the past few years, the calls the district responds to are going up.

“We do have some vacancies right now, but we are in the process of hiring. But we’ve been able to meet the demands as they increase. We’ve been able to meet that demand even though the calls are increasing. We still have the staff that are capable and ready to respond,” Kunitzer said.

He also said the district is working with the City of Charleston to acquire land and a building plan on the south end of Johns Island for a new fire station in the coming years. While it is in the very early stages, Kunitzer says it’s important for the emergency services to proactively keep up with the needs of the island.

“St. John’s Fire District rose to the occasion in 2022. They’re an exceptional group of people that do great work on a daily basis. It can be vehicle accidents, rescues, medicals cardiac arrest fires, they have to be trained for everything and they’ve met that occasion in 2022 and I’m very proud of the work they’ve done,” Kunitzer said.

July saw the highest number of calls with 425 total. February was the lowest with 262 calls. The report shows most responses taking place on John’s Island and Kiawah Island with a few in West Ashley and North Charleston. Kunitzer says that’s because of automatic aid agreements with seven nearby departments that send the closest available team to the call.

“So, whether you live in the city of Charleston, whether you live in West Ashley, if you’re unincorporated in the county or the city you’re going to get the closest fire unit possible. So, we can have a fire and you might have four different fire departments on that fire,” Kunitzer explained.

Total call breakdown in 20223,972 total incidents
False Alarm602
Good Intent583
Service Call383
Hazardous Condition80
Special Incident13
Severe Weather7

You can read the entire report with more details about the call volume statistics here.