Chief's Corner

2016-07-25 15.27.25

A New Year arrives

It has been my privilege to continue serving our wonderful community as the fire chief of the Beaver Lake Fire Department in 2016. I hope that 2016 found you and your family well, and that 2017 brings even better things to you. While the BLFD has made progress in 2016, it has not been without its challenges.

In July of 2016 with our failed dues increase we had to make tough decisions including terminating our daytime firefighter position. This resulted in a loss of four personnel from our already small roster, and led to our response time going from just over 5 minute’s average, to more than 9 minutes average. Why this is important to you, is because when you dial 911, response time can mean the difference between life and death.

BLFD has been meeting the ever growing demands for emergency services year after year with fire dues that have not increased since 2007. Since 2013 we have had to dip into our reserves to cover annual operating expenses. There is little left to cut from the budget to maintain today’s level of service, let alone truly meeting the needs within our community. I can’t stress enough how we need your support for a dues increase in 2017 so that we may continue to serve you as we have since 1979.

Aside from the challenges we have faced, 2016 has been a year we here at your fire department are very proud of. In 2016 we answered 548 calls for service, up from 482 in 2015. Your volunteers put in over 1400 hours of training in 2016, with 1,000 hours of that being certifiable (recognized by the two fire certification boards in the US.) While we lost one home due to fire in 2016, BLFD saved a large home on the east side of our district earlier in the year. BLFD also spent six hours fighting an 18 acre grass fire saving six structures in the process. I would be remiss if I did not mention our valued mutual aid partners in this success. We also added water rescue capability to our fire department in 2016, (funded 100% by donations and grants) and have responded to over 20 water emergencies including a broken leg, and cardiac arrest on Beaver Lake.

Your fire department is looking forward to 2017. We have two refurbished fire trucks arriving (ordered in 2015, which saved us nearly $100,000 in debt service.) These two fire trucks will allow us to carry more personnel, and equipment using fewer trucks. They also allow our firefighters to arrive fully dressed to begin work immediately. We also purchased a used ambulance from the City of Bentonville and by spring 2017 will be able to transport you to the hospital. This new service brings an ambulance to you faster, and enhances the existing EMS system for our community. So you are aware, we already respond to all of these medical calls, we are simply changing the vehicle in which we do it. This will save you money when we transport you instead of Rogers ambulance, and keep the medical billing local to help enhance our department.

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 jwhisenant@beaverlakefiredept.com.

 

 

John Whisenant

Fire Chief, Beaver Lake Fire Department