Elizabethtown Fire Department hopes to up certification; exceeds response time goal

By: Chrysta Carroll - Bladen Journal

ELIZABETHTOWN — Just six months after upping its rescue certification, a Bladen County fire department is hoping to do so again.

In September, the Elizabethtown Fire Department received medium rescue certification, and Fire Chief Nick West told the Elizabethtown Town Council recently it was only one class away from heavy rescue certification and hopes to achieve it when the department is revisited in March.

The announcement came amid West’s report to the Council about the dpartment’s accomplishments for 2017. In addition to receiving the medium rescue certification, it was also awarded a $165,000 FEMA grant for air packs and obtained a new rescue truck.

The department responded to 1,053 calls last year, West said, which is typical for Station 55. Of those calls, 135 were overlapping services, meaning the department responded to multiple calls at the same time.

“We pride ourselves on being able to take a second call,” West said.

The average number of firefighters per call for the year was 3.8.

The station also logged 5,879 training hours, which West called “pretty astounding.” Approximately 400 fire hydrants were serviced, and 211 fire inspections were completed. In addition, the staff and volunteers attended 362 outreach events that reached 2,376 adults and 3,189 children. West said many of those events were at the request of community members.

“It’s really good to see the community contacting us for programming,” he remarked.

One of the goals for the department was to attain an average response time of 1:30, something it exceeded. According to West, the average response time — the amount of time from the call for service until firefighters are out the door — is 1:14. The average travel time to get to a fire within the town limits is 3:21, and the average time for the fire district —the area extending six miles from the town limits) is 7:26.

“We’re getting there quickly and saving property,” West commented, adding property loss is below 10 percent, which “is wonderful.’

Goals for this year include improved partnering with the Rescue Squad, maintaining sufficient staffing, enhancing firefighter recruitment and retention, enhancing the fire inspection process, and completing the insurance survey process to lower the insurance rating.

At the mention of the latter, one Council member said the department has made such strides recently that have yet to be recognized.

“Look at all we’ve accomplished in 10 years,” said Ricky Leinwand. “… (We’ve) done so much to get us ready for inspection, and we can’t get anybody to come inspect us.”

West attributed the accomplishments to his staff and volunteers.

“We have a strong group of firefighters that are achieving the vision,” he remarked.

“You’re doing a great job,” responded Elizabethtown Mayor Sylvia Campbell. “The rapport you have with them keeps them coming back.”

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing ccarroll@bladenjournal.com.

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Chrysta Carroll

Bladen Journal