My fellow community members:
When I arrived in this community two years ago as fire chief for Evergreen Fire/Rescue, one of my goals was to remove Evergreen Fire/Rescue as a headline in the Courier for the wrong reasons. Recently, there has been a significant amount of misinformation presented in meetings and letters to the editor. This misinformation may cause some undue concern and fear; my hope is that this submission will resolve some of those unfounded fears. I have thought long and hard about when the appropriate time would be for me to chime in and participate; I believe now is the time. My submission is not a political point/counterpoint retort but rather an opportunity to educate and inform the community that Evergreen Fire/Rescue serves and to ask for assistance and ideas for improvement.
Evergreen Fire/Rescue has evolved over the years to enhance its service delivery through both its paid and volunteer members. Today the organization is 110 members strong of highly trained, dedicated and professional members. The Evergreen Volunteer Fire Department is the division of the organization that provides fire suppression, hazardous materials, wildland, and rescue emergency responses. They also assist in fire prevention, inspection, and safety presentations. They participate in several mutual-aid compacts for providing assistance to our neighboring fire districts and statewide. Eleven new members have completed their training and will be joining this group of your neighbors, to be there in your time of need.
The communications division operates two dispatchers 24 hours a day. They provide both emergency and non-emergency communication, emergency medical pre-arrival instructions to those in need, directions for responders, and mapping and tracking services. They also serve as a backup center for larger dispatch centers and have covered dispatching duties for our neighboring fire districts. Our facilities and fleet maintenance division provides maintenance and repair service for the eight stations, administrative, and maintenance facilities; it also keeps the district’s fleet of more than 40 apparatus in top operating condition. Many neighboring districts bring their apparatus to Evergreen Fire/Rescue for preventative maintenance and repairs. Our emergency medical services division provides two Advance Life Support ambulance crews 24 hours a day. These are located at the north and south sides of the district. These personnel are active in safety and health fairs, public education, and CPR classes. They also provide mutual aid to neighboring districts. Our fire prevention division provides code enforcement, plans review, public education and consultation on many fire and public safety issues. In the administration division, we provide organizational oversight, training and development, fiscal oversight, and administrative support.
As I have written, we train and respond with many of our neighboring emergency districts. Evergreen Fire/Rescue is not on an island when it comes to life safety and property protection. As your fire chief, I can assure you that you will see a highly trained group of responders do their best to help resolve the problem. In the past, this organization has been called upon by our neighbors for assistance, just as we have also called upon some of our neighbors for assistance. Our goal is to keep events “small” and manageable at the local responder level. If the “big one” hits, like every fire service organization in this country, Evergreen Fire/Rescue will team with local, state and federal partners in handling that event. I cannot guarantee a perfect outcome for every single event, but I can guarantee that Evergreen Fire/Rescue will do its best to protect our community. Operationally we are strong and continue to improve. Through our strategically located stations, on-duty paramedics, and our neighborhood response system of our volunteers, you will experience a timely response in your time of need.
For those community members who were able to join us for the annual pancake breakfast and Safety Day on Saturday, you were able to witness the professional dedication from both paid and volunteer members and their passion to serve their community.
Evergreen Fire/Rescue is continually looking for ways to improve. I welcome any suggestions or solutions that our community may feel beneficial. The best forum is for our community to bring any “policy” or “operational” concerns to our district board meetings. These meetings are open to the public, and participation from the community is encouraged. They are held the second Tuesday of the each month at 7 p.m. in the administration building at 1802 Bergen Parkway.
I certainly hope that this has helped in calming some of the concern that has developed, and explained how your community is protected and served by Evergreen Fire/Rescue.
Are we protected? Absolutely — by a group of dedicated paid and volunteer professionals!
Feel free to contact me with any other questions or concerns that you might have.
Garry L. DeJong is the fire chief at Evergreen Fire/Rescue.