Duluth Fire Department Busy in 2022, With Some Ups and Downs

Overall runs were up, but actual fires down. Code enforcement was up.

DULUTH, Minn. – Wednesday the Duluth Fire Department presented a picture of what calls were up and which were down in 2022.

In 2022, the department made 478 more runs than the year before. That’s an increase of 3.2%. over 2021.  There were twenty-four fewer fire calls. There were also 18 water rescues, down by 21 from the year before.

But numbers are not the entire story. Fire Chief Shawn Krizaj, said one challenge was what he described as an unprecedented number of retirements early in 2022. He said there were also nine department members on extended military leave for about nine months. Chief Krizaj said the rest of the department then works extra hours.

“It’s also a big pressure on their families, too. They’re gone more. They can be gone sometimes three, four days in a row, without being home,” Krizaj said. “So, I’d also like to thank the families of our firefighters, and the other people that support them. The men and women who work here have great support systems, we hope internally and of course, externally. So, what happens here does definitely affect them at home as well,” said Krizaj.

Another category the department measures is called Life Safety. Code enforcement cases were up by 292, compared to 2021. There were one hundred thirty-five more inspections.
Snow complaints were up by one hundred fifty-three. And no surprise, last year’s 410 snow complaints pale compared to the 755 received so far this year.

Deputy Chief Jonathan Otis is in charge of the Life Safety division. He has uniformed staff, that are visible to the public, but there are others doing important work as well. “And then we have the civilian staff, and those are our housing code enforcement folks,” said Otis.

“Our people that are dealing with blight, with vacant building enforcement. I try to identify, track and then return some of those blighted or vacant properties back to proper use, to actual housing units,” Otis said.

There has been a lot of discussion and criticism from the firefighter’s union about proposed budget cuts by Mayor Emily Larson. When asked about the subject, Chief Krizaj said he preferred to keep that discussion for another time, and keep the focus Wednesday on the work of the department.

Categories: Community, Health, Minnesota, Public Safety