BUCKHANNON – On May 2, during the City Council meeting, four members of the Buckhannon Fire Department received new pins marking their promotions. Firefighters Ethan Smith, Lieutenant Franklin “Linn” Baxa, Captain Joseph “Joey” Baxa, and Captain Brian Elmore studied almost 4,000 pages of material to successfully pass an exam that allowed them to move up in rank. Along with studying and passing a 100 question test, “What these firefighters know is not just based on the material but on experience,” Fire Chief J.B. Kimble said. Chief Kimble was proud of his firefighters and their accomplishments. “This is huge,” Kimble said. “These guys have stepped up, our department responds to a lot more calls,” he added. “When I started doing fire reports in 2001, we ran 128 calls that year,” Kimble said. “Now we respond to so many different types of incidents now and they are so well trained that it makes my job very easy.”
According to Kimble, in April 2019, Buckhannon Fire Department responded to 73 calls. Sixty-six of those calls were within the city limits, two of the calls were to assist Ellamore Fire Department, four assisted the Warren District, and one assisted the Weston Fire Department. “We responded 29 times outside the city limits but in our first due district,” Kimble said. “Fifty-eight percent of our call volume is in the city limits and 42 percent is outside but a lot of it is in our first due district,” he said. “We responded to two house fires but the majority of our calls are car wrecks and emergency medical calls which consists of strokes, heart attacks, cardiac arrests, and victims of falls over six feet.”
So far in 2019, the Buckhannon Fire Department has responded to a total of 424 calls. Of those, 245 calls were within the city limits. The first due area, or area of primary responsibility, spans over the City of Buckhannon and beyond. The department provides services to over 12,000 residents in the first due area and over 25,000 within additional areas covered by mutual and automatic aid agreements. Chief Kimble unveiled a new monthly report format that the fire department is now using, as part of its accreditation process, that further breaks down the type of calls it responds to and where those calls are located.
Kimble went on to add that Buckhannon Fire Department has 15 EMTs and one paramedic in their fire station. That is uncommon in a combination department, and Bridgeport is the only station that is similar. The Buckhannon Fire Department is comprised of 24 members. Of these members, 17 are volunteers and seven are paid firefighters. The department has members that are specialty trained in various areas which include; fire suppression, incident management, hazardous materials mitigation, vehicle and machinery rescue, confined space rescue, water rescue, dive operations, and basic life support. The department operates a total of four engines, one platform aerial truck, one rescue truck, and two support units. They also have one utility terrain vehicle, one hazardous materials containment trailer, and two boats.