Fire protection continues to improve

Published 10:02 pm Monday, June 4, 2012

There have been some big changes recently to the fire protection that residents of parts of Suffolk receive, and more are on the way.

A firefighter promotion ceremony last week marked the last necessary step to completing a plan that ultimately will result in better fire service in two fast-growing areas of Suffolk. When six new fire lieutenants took the oath of office on Wednesday, they became qualified to fill in for more senior officers who will be leaving their current positions in Suffolk to go to work in Driver and King’s Fork stations, both of which got new equipment last week.

The Driver Volunteer Fire Department got a new engine and the firefighters to operate it on Friday. Prior to that, an engine company from Bridge Road also covered Driver for part of the day. The new equipment and personnel will assure that homes and businesses within the Driver station’s area of operation are well protected and able to get help quickly in the event of a fire or other emergency.

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Similarly, folks in the growing King’s Fork area — which includes Obici Hospital, retirement communities and several large subdivisions — will be better protected with the arrival of the city’s third ladder truck, which is now stationed at the King’s Fork Fire Station. Placing a ladder truck in service there brings the new station to its planned full capacity and gives an added level of protection for the hospital and other office buildings near King’s Fork.

In Chuckatuck, volunteers have placed an order for a new Pierce Arrow XT pumper truck that they expect to be delivered in about seven months. Replacing a 22-year-old pumper, the new piece of equipment will include safety features for the firefighters, medical and vehicle extraction equipment and a hefty price tag, to boot.

Since Chuckatuck is an all-volunteer department, the financing for the new truck is a bit different than it is in the other departments. Private donations account for more than 60 percent of the Chuckatuck department’s annual budget, and the city of Suffolk will pay for only 45 percent of the cost of the new truck. Volunteers hope for a number of successful fundraisers in the coming months to help make up the difference.

Suffolk has long been blessed to have brave and professional men and women protecting them as firefighters, whether paid or not. It’s good to know those professionals will continue to have top-notch equipment with which to carry out their job of protecting the city and its residents.