The Watseka Fire Department had 12 calls in April.

There were three fire/smoke in building calls, three line/odor investigation calls, three traffic accident calls, two fire alarm calls and one mutual aid call to Crescent City.

Fire Chief Tim Ketchum said the firefighters have been taking training courses online since the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic happened. Those classes include extrication/stablization, Stihl chainsaws in service, hydrogen cyanide and overhaul.

“Once they complete it they have to sign in and say what it was on,” he said.

The department has also participated in three birthday drive by events. “Some of you may have seen them on the news, they’ve been pretty popular in the suburbs for kids,” he said, noting that again, because of the COVID-19 social distancing, many people are not having birthday parties. “We participated in a couple of them (locally),” he said. “You take the fire truck out and you wave at them and make every body happy. We’ve done three of them so far.”

In another matter, he said, the bridge on the west end of Woodland is under repair and will be as late as October.

He said he has worked with the fire chief in Woodland on an automatic response with them to help them out on the Watseka side of the bridge. “The only way they have is to either come all the way to Watseka to get to the west side of the district or go down two miles, over three and back up two,” he said. “We’ll probably have a little bit more in that area. We don’t have a lot of calls there.”

Ketchum said he and Deputy Fire Chief Nick Peters did a walk through at the new O’Reilly Auto Parts building. He said everything is up to code. Ketchum said he is going to do some research on what other communities require as far as fire safety. “They are definitely up to code,” he said of the building. “We just felt like there should be a little bit more.” There is not sprinkler system in the building, which he gain reiterated is not required.

“We’re going to do some research to find out what we can do down the road,” he said.

“That should probably be city wide,” Alderman Dennis Cahoe said, which Ketchum agreed. Cahoe asked how many businesses in town don’t have an alert system, and Ketchum said probably a lot. He would like to see something that would tell someone in the front of the building that there is a probably int he back of the building.

He also told the committee that some of the firefighters have been doing some practice on driving the engines. “I’ve had some people asking why the engines are going around town, and that’s why. While we have some down time they are getting that practice in,” he said.