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BB Road Fire Department ... Neighbors helping neighbors

Thursday, July 26, 2007

(Photo)
BB Road Fire Department
The BB Road Volunteer Fire Department is one of the volunteer fire departments in Oregon County.

The fire department is located 10 miles east of Alton just off Highway 160 at the intersection of county roads 225 and 222.

Edgar Wilson serves as fire chief at BB Road and has for the past five years. Dale Johnson is the assistant fire chief.

Wilson said the fire department is governed by a 12-member board of directors. Officers are, Wendell Williams, president of the board; Kenny Worthy, vice president; John Keck, secretary; Earlene Williams, treasurer; and Edward Casey is the fire department chaplin.

The board members are elected to one-year terms. The fire department election is in September.

"We serve a five mile radius from the fire station, or a 10 mile circle. We meet Alton to the west, Myrtle to the south and Pine-Bardley in Ripley County to the east," Wilson said.

There are 20 volunteer fire fighters at BB Road. "They are all volunteers that get paid nothing. Those 20 fire fighters include three women and two trained first responders," the fire chief said. He said first responders have more training in the medical area than regular fire fighters. "Our first responders have had emergency medical training (EMT). They are suppose to be the first to arrive at an accident scene, if someone has had a heart attack or needs general medical attention. Most of the time they arrive before the ambulance crew. They stabilize the patient and when the ambulance arrives the EMTs tell them what the situation is and how the patient is doing," Wilson said.

All fire department members have turn-out gear bought and supplied by the fire department.

The fire department operates with three trucks. The newest is a 2004 2,000 gallon GMC pumper tanker purchased with a federal grant. The brush truck is a 1979 Chevrolet 500 gallon, mini-pumper. The fire department also has a 1,200 tanker truck on loan from the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). "We just recently applied for a federal grant for a newer tanker truck but we don't know how that will turn out," he said. The fire department has a jaws of life and self contained breathing apparatus (SCBA).

Besides responding brush and structure fires they also assist in searches and water rescues.

Residents of the BB Road Fire District $35 a year, or $100 for three years, to be covered by the fire department. Wilson said residents that live within the fire district who are not members are billed if the fire department renders their services to them. Wilson said currently there are 135 to 150 residents of the community paying for fire protection from BB Road.

The fire chief said last year his department responded to 10 brush fires, three or four structure fires and several accidents.

Wilson said he attends training sessions supplied by Missouri State University four times a year. All fire department members meet at the fire house once a month for a two hour training session, mostly dealing with truck operations and safety.

"Being a fireman is the most dangerous job in the world. We stress safety at BB Road. If we can't do the job safely, we are not going to do it at all," Wilson said.

The fire district is not without its problems. "Radios and communication between our own fire department members, MDC, other fire departments and law enforcement agencies is our biggest problem. We have problems with hills and hollows in our coverage area," the fire chief said. Wilson said the closest repeater tower is at least 15 miles to the south on Highway 142 East and the next closest tower is near West Plains which is even further away. "We have a good set-up here except for our communication. We need a new repeater tower closer to our area. We also need some younger people involved in the fire department in our area," Wilson said.

The fire department holds several fundraisers a year. They include the Mother's Day Basket Give-Away; the sale of fire works; a barbecue, a fish fry; deer hunters' breakfast and supper; and a gun show. "These are the functions that keep our fire department a-float. We raise between $11,000 and $12,000 a year. It takes half of that just to cover our insurance," he said.

Wilson said his department works closely with the MDC. "They are super good to us. They are always bringing us their surplus equipment and are asking if they can assist us. They are always good to help us fight fires on state owned land," Wilson said.

Wilson said the community as a whole is very good to support the fire department. "We appreciate the help and support we get from everyone. Without then we would not have a fire department," he said.

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