Chief John Whisenant
2020 has arrived, I want to take a moment and reflect on the success your Beaver Lake Fire Department (BLFD) saw in 2019. BLFD has been hard at work improving safety in our community. Did you know, BLFD is a combination paid/volunteer fire department. What this means is we have some staff that is employed and paid fulltime, some staff which are employed and paid part-time, and some staff which are volunteers. Let’s take a look at how your fire department is staffed.
- One Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulance staffed with one BLFD Firefighter/EMT and one Mercy Paramedic 24 hours a day seven days a week
- Two person engine company staffed 12 hours a day seven days a week with a BLFD Firefighter/EMT and Lieutenant
- One full-time fire chief five days a week ( on call 24/7)
Thanks to the successful fire dues increase in 2017, BLFD will continue to enhance our staffing and service capabilities in 2020.
- Adding one Firefighter/EMT for overnight response on a fire engine for no less than seventy-two night shifts annually.
- Adding our part-time Deputy Chief and part-time training Captain to the daytime response crew as shift commanders for atleast seventy-two shifts annually.
- Continuing our live-in firefighter program at the Grimes Drive fire station which provides a place to live for one volunteer in return for their service to our community.
While having this staffing in the station ready to answer your calls is of great benefit to you, the limited staff we are able to provide is not adequate for most emergencies. Because of this, it is important we maintain and actively recruit volunteer responders. One of the many benefits to volunteering with Beaver Lake Fire Department is the opportunity for paid certification training and opportunity to be hired and receive compensation for your work on our part-time or fulltime rosters. BLFD actively recruits volunteers. I can’t stress enough the importance of having properly trained personnel who are able to respond to your emergencies. The national fire protection association (NFPA) and occupational safety and health administration (OSHA) standard calls for at least four fire personnel to be on scene of a structural fire before entry can be made into that structure for firefighting or rescue operations. When you hear me talking in our community about the need for personnel it is both for your safety and our safety that we have the right number available.
In 2019 BLFD, through our partnership with Mercy Health, purchased a new Demers Ambulance replacing an eleven year old ambulance. This new ambulance is projected to serve our community for atleast seven years. Also because of our partnership with Mercy Health in 2020 we are replacing our Lifepak 12 cardiac monitor with a Lifepak 15, ensuring we have the most updated cardiac equipment for our citizens. BLFD lost a long-serving, thirty six year board member El Nading, in August of 2019. A memorial fund was established thanks to donations received, we purchased and placed into service a new Lucas CPR device which replaces a ten year old Zoll CPR device. The total investment in EMS equipment for 2019/2020 will be around $215,000 which is being paid for through donations and strategic partnerships.
BLFD is proud to serve our community not just in your time of need but through many public information and service initiatives. Each year BLFD hosts a FREE community Easter egg hunt at our Grimes station. We are happy to partner with Lakeside Baptist church and area community members to make this event successful each year. We also take part in the annual Guns N Hoses School Supply drive at Dollar General in Prairie Creek. This event brings BLFD and Benton County Sherriff’s office together in a friendly event gathering school supplies for lake area children. BLFD also partners with Dollar General each year for a holiday toy drive, which coupled with our annual Donuts with Santa event in 2019 brought 200 residents to our station for holiday cheer. Along with these great events you can see BLFD out at any number of Lake events doing EMS standbys or simply getting to know our residents. You can also see your Fire Chief or a representative at many POA meetings available to answer any questions you have about emergency response in our community.
BLFD answered 736 calls for service in 2019 which represents an eight percent increase from 2018 or sixty-three additional calls. Our busiest day in 2019 was October 21st the day an EF2 tornado passed through our community. BLFD began that day at one am and responded to thirty calls for service over the course of a fifteen hour period. Like many in our community our fire station was without power for four days yet your fire department never missed a call and would answer a total of fifty calls for the week of October 21st. At BLFD we are committed to providing professionally trained, properly equipped personnel to meet your needs. We will utilize every dollar you provide to us through fire dues and donations to improve upon each service we provide.
Some of our goals in 2020 include a capital funds campaign to raise money to expand our Grimes Drive fire station which will allow personnel to be housed centrally in our fire district. The land for the expansion has already been donated by First Security Bank. We also are hopeful to begin a firefighter explorer program with Heritage High School in an effort to recruit future emergency responders. Along with this goal we will be engaging our community members to help replenish our volunteer responder ranks. Volunteerism in the fire service is trending down nationally and we have seen its effects in our own department, we will be renewing our efforts in 2020 for recruitment and retention. Those interested in volunteering can download an application through our website, http://beaverlakefiredept.com/applications
I am humbled to begin my sixth year as your fire chief. Having set my roots here in 2007 and quickly becoming a volunteer firefighter for this community, I now have a large family of my own I am raising here. I have a vested interested in the quality of emergency services our community receives. Thank you for your continued support of the BLFD, we are here when moments matter.
Fire Chief, Beaver Lake Fire Department