National Run Survey: Canada's Busiest Engine Company

Located in the heart of Toronto's entertainment district, firefighters on Pumper 332 see a lot of action.

"They work at a busy station, said Commander Andrew Kostiuk. "There's a lot of nightlife and action. CityTV, one of the national TV stations is nearby, so there's always lots of activity."

Given the fast pace and big city atmosphere, it's not surprising that Pumper 332 is Canada's busiest engine company.

The engine company racked up 4,995 runs to earn the distinction.

"Medical calls are the biggest number of calls we receive," Kostiuk says. Indeed, medical calls made up 52 percent of the 139,368 total calls for the entire department.

"Nine percent are vehicle incidents, like vehicle fires or rescues." He said false alarms also made up a large number of Pumper 332's activity.

In Canada, a fire engine must respond to a medical call along with an ambulance.

"We run a tiered response for life-threatening calls." That means those incidents require the presence of a fire truck, ambulance and police car. In Toronto, fire and ambulance are two separate entities.

Pumper 332 uses a Spartan Chassis Smeal 2002. The engine has a 6,000 liter pump. The department has customized their apparatus, with cutting-edge mobile data terminals, large booster tanks and fully-enclosed cabs. Behind each seat SCBA hangs ready to be donned by firefighters en route to a call.

Pumper panels are protected by roll-up doors so they don't get salt and grime on them in the winter.

"Other than that," says Kostiuk, "they are just like any other fire truck - shiny, chrome."

Making almost 5,000 runs has to place a lot of wear and tear on the vehicle. "A lot of those calls are in downtown Toronto. Even though we run a lot of calls, we also run a lot of miles."

Kostiuk says the department replaces the vehicle every 10 years.

Minimum staffing is four firefighters - a captain and three firefighters. "We take a pumper out of service if it goes below four."

This is Toronto's second recognition in this year's run survey. The city also earned the title of Canada's busiest department overall.

The city has 80 fire stations in all, plus a temporary one that opens during the Canadian National Exhibition. The huge summer fair is attended by over 1 million people on average.

Kostiuk says the number of engines at each station varies. "We have single pump stations and stations with three pumps. It varies based on what part of the city the station is in."

The department has recently completed a new master fire plan based on a 10-year study into the department's activity. The plan calls for a number of truck movements.

The department is opening up a new station in mid-August.

"Once you move one truck it generates a chain effect."

They will also be receiving 30 brand new trucks.

"They are all really dedicated guys," Kostiuk says of the company. "They work at a really busy station, but the guys love it here."