Southfield Fire Department Fire Cadet Shaw McRae helps NoElle Stewart, of Southfield, spray a fire hose Sept. 10 at the Fire Department Open House.

Southfield Fire Department Fire Cadet Shaw McRae helps NoElle Stewart, of Southfield, spray a fire hose Sept. 10 at the Fire Department Open House.

File photo by Donna Agusti


Fire Department marks busiest year on record

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published January 31, 2018

 Capt. Melissa Medici, an EMS coordinator at the station, gives Heather Rickman and Ben Rickman, of Highland Township, sidewalk CPR instruction during the open house.

Capt. Melissa Medici, an EMS coordinator at the station, gives Heather Rickman and Ben Rickman, of Highland Township, sidewalk CPR instruction during the open house.

File photo by Donna Agusti

SOUTHFIELD — Some local everyday heroes work around the clock, and they’re not about to stop. 

According to Fire Chief Johnny Menifee, the Southfield Fire Department has logged 2017 as its busiest year on record, and it is on track for an even busier 2018. 

In 2017, Menifee said, his staff responded to 14,347 calls for service, or about 39 calls per day. Of those calls, 2,139 were in response to fires and 12,116 were in response to medical emergencies. In 2016, crews responded to 14,132 calls for service. 

“As far as I know, we’re still the busiest department in Oakland County,” Menifee said. “I’ve been looking at the trends in the medical field, and with fire calls, we’re expecting this spike in runs for another four to five years.”

The Southfield Fire Department has been in operation since 1942 and also services Lathrup Village. The department is made up of 88 people at five fire stations in the city.

Menifee said the high volume of calls is due to a number of factors. 

“Individuals are living a lot longer, and people are doing a lot more things to make sure they live longer, but they’re having more issues as they get older,” Menifee said. “And with advancing technology, we have more distracted drivers. As we progress as a society, it creates certain calls.”

Drugs play a major factor in call volume too, Menifee said, and the opioid epidemic contributes to the volume of medical calls the department gets.

Menifee said he’s big on stats and often crunches the numbers on the department. He said responders receive the most calls at 10 a.m. on any given day of the week, but the busiest time frame in the city is between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday nights are usually quite busy, but not as busy as Thursdays, he said. 

“On Thursday, people are getting ready for the weekend. I was surprised, though, that 10 o’clock became our busiest time. With the 180,000 people in Southfield and Lathrup Village as our daytime population, I thought the commute would be the busiest, but when I went in and looked at the research, it’s more of the medical calls, when our elderly population starts waking up and having issues. It seems to be a lot more medical and EMS calls during that time,” Menifee said. 

Lathrup Village Mayor Kelly Garrett said the city is grateful to use the services of the Southfield Fire Department. 

“Without them and without how close they are, we could be in major trouble. They have been a fabulous resource,” Garrett said. “Without them, we’d be dead in the water.”

Garrett said the department also works with the city on how to improve services. 

“I really appreciate that the fire chief has come to our council meetings to talk with us to find out how we can partner better together,” she said. 

December is the busiest month at the Fire Department, Menifee said, as it contains many holidays. Menifee said that each year, firefighters remind residents and visitors to keep a watchful eye on their holiday candles, Christmas trees and ovens. 

“That’s also the time of the year where people are starting to use their heat and trying different sources for heat if they have a problem,” he said. “I still can’t believe sometimes people try to heat up their car while it’s in the garage, or when people use their oven or generators to heat the house.”

Menifee said residents should be aware of the importance of having a working smoke detector, along with a working carbon monoxide detector and a home fire extinguisher. 

Free smoke detectors provided by the city are available for pickup from any of the five fire stations in the city. 

“Early detection has been part of us providing service for a while. When your neighbors or passers-by see something and report it, it puts us on alert that much earlier to help solve your problem. I can’t say how many calls we get from passers-by or neighbors. Help your neighbors and look out for one another,” Menifee said. “I think that’s what makes Southfield great, is the community involvement.”

For a complete list of fire station locations, visit cityofsouthfield.com or call the Southfield Fire Department at (248) 796-5700.