SASKATOON -- The number of calls the Saskatoon Fire Department (SFD) is responding to is up this year - and there’s a difference in the types and location of those calls.

Assistant Fire Chief Yvonne Raymer told CTV News members are being called to more needle pick ups in city parks compared to other years. Some are in parks not usually visited for needle disposal.

Raymer would not disclose the specific parks involved, but said they are in the Briarwood and Willowgrove neighbourhoods.

Grass fires are also seeing an increase due to the dry conditions, as are fires caused by improperly disposed cigarettes.

“Maybe it’s because more people are at home and wanting to be outside. They’re using cardboard boxes or margarine containers,” Raymer said.

She says they have been trying to get a lot of messaging out regarding the safe disposal of cigarettes, but it hasn’t been successful.

“I feel like a broken record. I sent it out four times already.”

On May 6, SFD had to deal with 109 incidents: the highest single day amount since they started using the current recording system in 2014, Raymer said. May 4 was close behind with 100 calls.

Raymer said so far this year, calls to incidents are up 40 per cent. compared to 2020. Those incidents include anything from water rescue, motor vehicle accidents, grass fires, dwelling fires as well as needle pick ups in places like parks.

Raymer says they tend to have a low rate of false alarms and when a call comes in, they dispatch a fire engine which usually has a crew of four or five members.

They send an engine to each call to ensure that they have all equipment necessary.

SFD has working agreements with the fire departments in the surrounding areas like Corman Park or Martensville and in the case where extra trucks or crews are needed to battle a fire in the city, the battalion chief would call on them.

This was the case with the grass fire on 71st Street in late April. Warman crews were dispatched to help with that fire to help protect a nearby structure.

Raymer says SFD will continue to get public service announcements out regarding the problematic areas in the hopes that the public gets the messages about staying safe.