A big jump in 911 calls has the Anchorage Fire Department (AFD) asking for help.


Assistant fire chief Erich Scheunemann said the department will ask the city to fund four new dispatcher positions in its 2017 budget.


Scheunemann said the fire department is taking thousands of additional calls every year for a variety of reasons, including the fact that Anchorage’s population has grown and is aging. But, he said, the biggest jump came in 2013 when AFD began answering calls for the Anchorage Safety Patrol and dispatching vans to pick up public inebriates from the streets.


According to Scheunemann the arrangement has worked out well for the city over-all with one exception, the increase in calls has put a strain on dispatchers.


“We haven’t added any staff in eight to 10 years,” said Scheunemann. “We’ve become busy enough that we need more staff to meet the needs — not just the departments and the agencies we work with but also the community.”


Schuenemann said the department currently has 20 funded dispatcher positions and would like to have 24. He said starting salaries for the job run around $73,000 a year, excluding benefits. The assembly will be asked whether to approve spending the money when they take up next year’s budget.


KTVA 11's Lauren Maxwell can be reached via email or on Twitter.