Fires drop in Sugar Land; hazmat calls increase, report shows

The number of structure fires in Sugar Land dropped by half over the past year, while the city’s fire department responded to far more calls concerning hazardous materials, a new report shows.

According to the 2016 Annual Report recently released by the Sugar Land Fire-EMS Department, FY 2015 saw 36 fires erupt in Sugar Land, but that number dropped to 17 in FY 2016. Figures for prior years were not released.

Sugar Land Fire Chief Juan Adame said it was not possible to attribute the drop to any single factor. However, he said the fire department conducts a lot of public education outreach in the community, with much of that education focused on the potential for kitchen fires, especially stoves left unattended, which he said is a top cause of fires in the home.

“We work real hard at educating the public,” Adame said.

The number of hazardous materials related emergencies increased from 132 in FY 2015 to 192 in FY 2016, according to the report. Emergency calls that are labeled hazmat calls include a wide variety of problems, from a possible natural gas leak to dangerous materials being spilled on the ground, Adame said.

“If a person smells gas in their home, we go investigate,” he said.

The hazardous materials classification makes many of those calls sound more dangerous than they actually are, he said.

“If there had been big spill, it would have been on the news,” Adame said.

As the December annexation of New Territory and Greatwood draws nearer, the fire department will beef up its personnel, the report shows, with plans to add a seven-person medic team that will be housed in Fire Station 6, located in Greatwood.

The extra medics are needed because the two communities had been receiving EMS services from Fort Bend County. The communities already receive fire protection from Sugar Land Fire Department through a service contract.

In addition, the report states that Fire Station 6 is due to be renovated. Adame said those renovations call for upgrades to its communication system and with additional office space to be added.

The total number of calls ticked up slightly, from 8,118 in FY 2015 to 8,197 in FY 2016, according to the report.