Chief John Whisenant
As we usher in 2019, I want to take a moment and reflect on the success your Beaver Lake Fire Department (BLFD) has seen in 2018. Your local fire department has been hard at work improving safety in our community. You may not be aware that the 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.
In January of 2018 Beaver Lake Fire Department began to co-operate an Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulance with Mercy Health, which is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This ambulance is owned by Beaver Lake Fire Department and currently housed at fire station one in the Beaver Shores neighborhood. As a part of this service contract with Mercy Health, BLFD provides one Firefighter/EMT per day for the ambulance, while Mercy provides one Paramedic per day for the ambulance. Also beginning January of 2018, thanks to the community supported fire dues increase of 2017, BLFD was able to staff the grimes drive fire station with a Firefighter/EMT twelve hours a day seven days a week. Having these personnel in the stations ready to answer your calls to 911 have improved our departments average response time to your emergencies.
Five days a week the fire chief works at the grimes station and we also have a part-time deputy chief who does various administrative and emergency response work. 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 their work on our part-time or fulltime rosters. BLFD actively recruits volunteers and this year has added seven people to our volunteer roster, of which three are enrolled in the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) program. 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.
May of 2018 we received the results of the Insurance Service Office rating (ISO) which is a national fire department grading agency who measures fire department capability’s. The rating scale between one and ten helps to determine homeowners insurance rates in a community. Since 2007 BLFD has proudly maintain a Class six rating, through the hard work of the emergency response personnel, and the strategic planning of your elected Board of Directors for the BLFD, we were able to improve our rating to a Class Four! Since this rating has went into effect, we have received reports from around our community of savings on homeowners insurance policy’s between $110 and $330 annually. While not all insurance companies recognize ISO many do recognize it. The $75 dollar increase we asked for in 2017 was in many cases returned through insurance savings to our residents.
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 brings holiday joy to our community. This year not only were the toys handed out to lake area kids, but the remaining toys were donated to Crye Leike reality & Rocky Branch Baptist church for their community dinner/giving night. 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.
More than 670 times in 2018 BLFD answered calls for help from our citizens. Each year the calls for assistance continue to grow 2-5%. This is due to many factors including our aging population. 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. In 2019 BLFD will hire one additional fulltime Firefighter/EMT as part of our continued efforts to ensure a timely and appropriate response to your emergency.
I am proud to begin serving my fifth year as your fire chief. Having set my roots here in 2007 and quickly becoming a volunteer firefighter for this community, now having a 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