The volunteer firefighters of Carbon Cliff and Barstow fire districts say the merger of their departments, approved by voters Nov. 5, is proceeding smoothly and will mean better service for everyone.|
Fire Chief Matt Schnepple said the combined department has 43 volunteer firefighters and seven vehicles. He said the departments were in the habit of calling each other when there's an emergency so "it made logistical sense to consolidate."
During a training session/lecture last week, firefighters were positive about the change.
Garry Stark, second battalion chief, has followed in his father's footsteps and became a Carbon Cliff volunteer firefighter in 2005. He said the merger means everyone is on the same page.
Communication between the two departments is more efficient, and response times are more synchronized. Both now are dispatched by a center in Silvis.
Larry Scott, deputy chief and former fire chief of Carbon Cliff and a firefighter since he was 18, said the consolidation has brought peace of mind.
For example, now that the Carbon Cliff station has some of Barstow's EMS team and equipment, village residents can receive the help they need quicker because they won't have to wait for Barstow's team to arrive, like before. There's a "sense of good feeling to have that qualified person doing the job," he said.
Mallory Middleton, firefighter and EMT basic, is in her second year with the team and is set on protecting and serving her community.
She said she feels confident in the newly combined team and is happy to be a part of it. Since the two separate departments joined together, there were some kinks to work out -- it has been a little overwhelming simply going to the meetings where all 43 volunteers buzz around the station.
Firefighter Blake Moore has been with the team for 11 months but already has developed a strong desire to continue helping people. He said anyone considering a job as a volunteer firefighter should do it.
During the lecture last week, Chief Schnepple stressed the importance of knowing where a fellow firefighter is, what needs to be done at the scene of an emergency and how to handle a situation in which one's health may be in jeopardy.
The chief said he hopes the advancements offered by the combined department will result in a lower Insurance Services Office evaluation next year, which would mean lower insurance rates for homeowners.
Carbon Cliff Mayor Ken Williams said before the consolidation, Carbon Cliff paid about $86,000 annually for fire services and $7,510 for insurance on fire vehicles, building and workers' compensation. The budget now stands at $64,765, with no further obligation of the insurance.
Barstow has agreed to take on future fire insurance expenses in exchange for aid from Carbon Cliff when necessary. If Barstow is in a tight pinch for funding, Carbon Cliff will make additional grants from the village's hotel tax fund.
In addition to this contribution to Barstow, Carbon Cliff is temporarily paying $2,500 monthly from the general fund to help get the consolidated department up and running.
Chief Schnepple said more help always is welcome. Anyone interested in starting a career as a volunteer firefighter can visit the department's headquarters located at 1108 186th St., Barstow.
Combined Carbon Cliff-Barstow Fire Department
1 ladder truck
2 fire engines
1 rescue pumper
1 pumper tender
1 brush unit
1 command vehicle
Quick response times
More volunteer firefighters
Enhanced emergency medical services
Advanced extraction capabilities
Operational hazardous response capability
Colona, IL Details
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