Alton Fire Department ... Working together for the community

Thursday, August 16, 2007

ALTON -- Samuel Barton has served as Alton city and rural fire chief since January 2006.

The Alton City Council governs both fire departments.

Barton said the rural fire department covers a fairly wide area around the Alton city limits.

"We travel north on Highway 19 about eight miles past Greer. We go six or seven miles out P highway and to the south we go out E Highway and A highway nine or 10 miles. To the west our coverage area goes almost to Thomasville," Barton said.

Barton said currently the department is down to 10 firemen. They are all volunteers. "We are in need of firefighters," he said.

The fire department has several different vehicles at their disposal. The only truck not shared by both departments is a 1967 Ford pumper that holds 500 gallons of water. Barton said it stays exclusively in the city except when there is an extreme emergency.

Other fire department vehicles include a 2005 GMC pumper that was purchased with a federal grant. "This truck is equipped with everything a rural fire department needs including a self contained breathing apparatus, 300 feet of tack line, a portable monitor and a manless water apparatus," he said.

The department has a 1962 1,000 gallon tanker with a drop tank on it. Just recently Ozarks Medical Center donated an old ambulance to the fire department that carries a jaws of life, needed hand tools and other basic equipment.

Barton said all of the firefighters in his department have had basic firefighting training as mandated by the state. He said his department participates in in-house training once a month at the fire house. The Alton Fire Department is located just behind the Alton City Hall.

"Last year we responded to eight or 10 structure fires, 15 to 20 grass fires and a couple of car fires," the fire chief said.

He said for rural residents around Alton to join the fire department it costs $45 a year. "We will respond to two fires at a location if their dues are paid," Barton said. He said the dues are due every Jan.1.

Barton said if the fire department responds to a call where dues have not been paid, the department gives the individual the opportunity to pay their $45 dues and that still leaves them one fire covered by the fire department.

Barton said, in the near future he is planning on starting some type of fundraiser to help support the fire departments. Presently the rural fire department is operating only on donations and yearly dues.

"We are in need of firefighters in our community. Anyone that would be interested in volunteering as a firefighter can contact city hall, the sheriff's department or any local firefighter, and we will make sure they receive the proper training needed," Barton said.

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