DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – The Durham Fire Department wants to get ahead of growing call volumes, taller buildings and set faster response times.

An audit of the department shows the number of fire and medical calls are up in Durham compared to last year.

Durham Fire Chief Bob Zoldos said it’s partially due to the return of pre-pandemic operations, and also more people moving into the city.

“Take away that big jump from COVID to now, not COVID, when we flipped that switch, population is a big driver for that,” Zoldos said. “We were concerned obviously about growth but also vertical growth, vertical growth is a big deal for us. Our firefighters train on that.”

Zoldos wants to add at least two more ladder truck companies that would bring 32 more firefighters onto the force.

“Two new ladder companies to specifically put units and resources where we think we need them at,” Zoldos said.

The department hopes to also undertake another study to look at which areas or stations are pressed the most by growth and which spots could have more high development in the near future.

“Those are good things for us and it’s great to have that outside look to go, ‘hey yeah, you guys are working on this but here’s a great way to do it that we may not thought of,’” Zoldos said.

The department responded to 621 calls during Thanksgiving week, that’s up from 531 calls during the week of Thanksgiving last year.

The same fall audit also reported response times for moderate and high risk fire calls last year were around seven minutes on average. High risk medical calls took longer at around nine and a half minutes.

The National Fire Protection Association’s benchmark goal is six minutes and 30 seconds across the board. However, Zoldos said that goal is hard to meet.

“The response times are good, they’re getting better,” Zoldos said. “We are working on some things. You’ll see some things around the station we have actually done to make the response times better with what we currently have.”

One of those changes include adding more dispatch monitors so firefighters can instantaneously see every call, some even seconds before their station alarm rings.