OHIO COUNTY, W.Va. (WTRF) – The Wheeling Fire Department broke an all-time record for calls in 2021, making this past year the department’s busiest in history. 7,849 total calls came in, but the categories are surprisingly different.

The biggest category of calls were EMS or medical calls, and the majority were either related to our aging population or to COVID. Some patients had it, but didn’t know it.

“Our crews are doing a good job protecting themselves with wearing their PPE. And we’ve had a surprisingly low impact of cases within the department. We have had some cases.”

Chief Jim Blazier, Wheeling Fire Department

Fire calls were down, and false alarms were up, but very few were deliberate. We’re told that most are accidental or technology-triggered.

“Things that the alarm system mistakes as smoke. So like if people are doing renovation in their building and they’re creating dust by sanding dry wall or things like that, that will kind of trip the smoke alarms.”

Chief Jim Blazier, Wheeling Fire Department

They hope to break ground in the spring for their new $6.4 million headquarters on 17th Street.

“We’ve outgrown the facility we’re in now. So this facility’s going to give us a huge upgrade in some things that we had. Storage, ability to park apparatus, better conditions for crews.”

Chief Jim Blazier, Wheeling Fire Department

They hope to move in by this time next year.

They also say they received overdose calls, but not as many as last year. They hope those numbers will continue to trend downward.