BOONVILLE — The Boonville Fire Department has achieved a lower ISO rating of three, a benefit to town residents as it means a lower rate on home owners insurance. The new rating goes into effect on May 1.
“We are very proud of this accomplishment which has come to be by way of the hard work our members at the operations and administrative levels of the department have put in and from the financial investment in both equipment and personnel, in particular paid staffing personnel,” said Fire Chief Brandon Renegar. “From an operations standpoint, both our volunteer and paid members have had to put forth a tremendous amount of work in which the volunteer members in particular deserve a tremendous applause because they have received nothing for the tremendous amount of work they have put in with no real compensation. With that said, at the end of the day our volunteers are happy to do the work they’ve done. After all, putting in volunteer work and serving the community is why they joined and why they choose to remain with the department.”
Renegar said the department’s volunteers often put in well above the required training hours needed.
“Our members could do the minimum to retain membership but in most cases our members go well above and beyond minimum requirements. We have members exceeding 100 and 200 hours of training a year not to mention all the emergency calls they respond to in a years’ time,” he said. “For our officers and administrative staff, there are then various meetings both internal and external they participate in at least monthly in most cases. Other activities that often go unnoticed or unconsidered by people are maintenance of trucks, equipment, hydrants, and water points along with completing public services or education programs like smoke alarm installations, fire extinguisher training or home fire safety education to children and even adults.”
In addition to the many volunteer hours, members put in with the department, most also have full-time jobs as well.
“After all the hours put into work, they then have to find a way to serve this community and often put their own family after the department and that is a tough thing to expect of anyone. But our members do it,” said Renegar.
Despite the many hours put in by volunteer firefighters, with many having regular jobs as well, staffing can be an issue at the department and one Renegar hopes could be addressed with additional funding.
“We have requested for several years now to the county a funds increase request and we feel it has been a very thoughtful and responsible request that wouldn’t burden our citizens financially,” said Renegar. “Staffing is the most important topic for us to address in order to guarantee the best possible response and service to our community. Without someone to respond, all the firefighting equipment in the world is useless.”
Weekdays during normal business hours are when Renegar said the Department had the least available manpower. The goal, he said, would be an increase to have two paid firefighters on duty during those hours. A one cent increase in the Boonville fire tax rate is what he hopes could help bring in additional funds to be able to have two paid daytime firefighters and continue to keep its new ISO rating as well as provide additional funds to replace aging apparatus and equipment.