It continues to be a privilege serving our wonderful community as the fire chief of the Beaver Lake Fire Department (BLFD) in 2017. The strides made in improving emergency services for our community in 2017 have been many.
Since our inception in 1979, BLFD has been committed to answering your call for help day, night, and weekends too. Each year we respond to a growing number of emergencies including; home fires, grass fires, motor vehicle accidents, medical emergencies, road hazards, utility emergencies to name a few. We asked our community in the summer of 2017 to approve an annual dues increase to help us continue to meet the service needs of our community. We thank you for your overwhelming support of this increase which takes effect in 2018.
In April 2017, BLFD began offering Basic Life Support (BLS) ambulance service to our community. This was the first ambulance ever to be quartered in our community, and represented a step forward in local emergency medical care. This service worked in strong collaboration with Rogers Fire who continued, through 2017, to provide the Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulance when needed. Since going into service April 4, 2017, BLFD answered 371 medical emergency calls. Of those 371 medical emergencies, our BLS ambulance mitigated 274 or 73% of the calls without the need for Rogers (ALS) ambulance. This helped to improve service in two ways; first being the improved response time brought by having a local ambulance available, and by freeing up the ALS ambulance for those both in our community and around who required ALS care, to receive it faster. We would like to thank Dr. Phillip Cedeno (a local community member) for his gracious offer to provide medical direction for our ambulance in 2017.
In 2017 we answered 655 calls for service, up from 548 in 2016. Your fire department answered the call for twenty-four (24) working home fires in 2017 to include saving a three (3) unit condo at Heritage Bay. I am sad however, to report our community suffered one fatality fire this year in the Prairie Creek area. Our rescue boat was utilized fourteen (14) times on Beaver Lake and once on War Eagle River. Our boat also responded to and extinguished a shoreline fire. As is the case with all fire departments, the bulk of our annual call volume came from Emergency Medical responses and account for 71% or 468 of our 655 calls in 2017.
The men and women of BLFD not only responded to calls this year but they continued their training and education. Personnel took part in fifteen (15) certifiable courses some of which included Emergency Medical Technician, FireFighter I & II and Fire Officer II. Along with certifiable training personnel attended nearly 100 Tuesday/Saturday training courses. We had two refurbished fire trucks (ordered in 2015) arrive. These apparatus are a good fit for our evolving mission.
In 2018 we have partnered with Mercy Health systems to upgrade our BLS ambulance to ALS. This latest service utilizes our facilities, our equipment, and our ambulance we purchased from Bentonville last year. The service will be co-operated by both BLFD (FF/EMT positions) and Mercy (Paramedic positions). The service will be at no additional cost to our residents as it is being funded through the existing county EMS millage and billed usage of the service. This represents a larger collaboration between six (6) county volunteer fire districts and Benton County administration. BLFD also looks forward to sharing the results of our Inusrance Service Office rating (ISO) which we anticipate will arrive early this year from our audit in late 2017.
In closing, I want to say again how privileged I am to serve as your fire chief. I have called Beaver Lake home since 2007, and the Beaver Lake Fire Department has been my passion since that time. Please always feel free to stop by the office on Grimes Drive, call 925.2082, or email email@example.com.
Fire Chief, Beaver Lake Fire Department