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From the Chief

A Message from Lowell Hardin

I am happy to report that our department continues to improve and thrive. This is possible only through the continued support of our community. As we near the end of 2022, I wanted to provide a summary of the department.

We have continued to grow in membership. This is a notable point as many volunteer organizations across the country, including fire departments, are struggling to find members to support their mission. Our team continues this growth through a professional process, which supports and mentors new team members. The departmental officers are continually evaluating our processes to assure they support team members in their desire to serve the community.

JHFD currently has 32 active members with additional applications. Recent additions have included personnel that have had previous experience in fire and EMS, leadership, and education. This is important as it allows us to broaden our knowledge and levels of experience and service. In 2022, we completed construction on Station 2, which will allow us to better serve the Jasper Farms and Blue Rock communities. With the addition of Engine 3 at this station, it continues our goal to maximize both response capabilities, and support the maintenance of our ISO rating which leads to lower homeowner insurance premiums. In our future strategic plan, we will add an additional multi-purpose vehicle at this station which will respond to EMS and wildland fire alarms.

JHFD team members continue to train to improve our service. Eight members completed the 64-hour Basic Firefighter Course this year. We have an additional five who start this course in November. We also had a firefighter complete his Firefighter I course; the first person to complete this level as a departmental member. We do have others who have achieved this certification prior to becoming a member. The department has completed a host of other classes, to include Emergency Vehicle Operations, Wildland Firefighting, and Introduction to Haz-Mat, which has totaled over 2000 hours. In order to maximize our service, our department has expanded our mutual aid processes. This includes signing an automatic aid agreement with Jasper Fire Department. This means that both departments are automatically dispatched to structure fires in either district. We have also officially become a member of the Tennessee Statewide Mutual Aid System. By law, every department is a member, but many departments are not active. In addition, we have responded to various mutual aid calls for other departments in our county.

Many may ask why mutual aid agreements are important and how does that impact the fire department budget and operations. When we respond to mutual aid calls, our officers assure a team remains on the mountain to provide services to our first response area. The actual mutual aid response offers several benefits. As our department is very young in experience, mutual aid allows our team members to gain experience in structural/wildland firefighting. They have received training but need to continually learn how to apply training to real world experiences. A second benefit, is to build relationships with the broader firefighting community. This shared relationship allows collaboration on best practices for efficiency and effectiveness. Finally, mutual aid is a shared responsibility. As we help others, they will help us in our community when we have a need.

This newsletter is not all inclusive of this year’s accomplishments as that would take many pages. We appreciate your support as a community, and I personally appreciate the continued opportunity to serve and grow our capabilities.

I wish each of you a wonderful holiday season and encourage you to always keep safety first and foremost in your minds.

Lowell Hardin, RN, MSN, NRP, NHDP-BC Chief