The Western Carteret Fire and EMS Department is still experiencing increasing call numbers and has cut back on mutual aid to Onslow County. (Brad Rich photo)

PELETIER — It looks like another record-setting year for calls for service by the Western Carteret Fire and EMS Department, as residential and commercial growth continues in the district.

Department Chief Kevin Hunter made his monthly report to Peletier commissioners during their meeting in the town hall.

The chief reported that in June, the department got 172 calls, including 13 in Peletier. That 172 number exceeded the 166 in June 2021, which was the record for the month.

In July, Chief Hunter said, the department received 192 calls, which was down from 207 in July 2021. Of those, 27 were in Peletier.

Still, he said, the total number of calls received in 2022 is about 4 percent ahead of the record set in 2021, when the department exceeded 2,000 calls for service for the first time. It could break 2,500 this year. 

The ever-increasing load is having some effects. Although the department has been able to maintain a staffing level of eight firefighter/paramedics for each shift each day, Chief Hunter has cut back on mutual aid to Onslow County, which is experiencing a staffing shortage. He also said other departments in the area continue to try to hire away his employees, who all received salary increases this year. 

At the direction of the board of directors of the Western Carteret Interlocal Cooperation Agency, which oversees the department, the department is providing mutual aid in Onslow only on delta-level calls – that means life-threatening – and only in Swansboro and the eastern part of Stella in Onslow.

And, he said, the department will not respond to those calls if one of its ambulances is already responding to a call in the district.

Generally, the department has not had to provide much mutual aid to Onslow. But at one recent point, Chief Hunter told Peletier commissioners, Onslow County had only five of its 11 EMS units in operation because of staff problems.

“We want to do what we can to help,” Chief Hunter said. “But we have to protect our citizens.”

The good news is that the department has taken delivery of its brand new $710,000 fire truck, which is equipped for both fire and EMS service. The one apparatus replaces two units that are more than 20 years old and was paid for without a district tax rate increase.

Chief Hunter said the truck came in earlier than expected and should be in service within days.

Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.

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