John D. Wynn Jr., Fire Chief, Natchitoches Fire Department
2020 has been a year!!! Covid-19 started things off. We really had to reevaluate how to reach our community to get our Fire Prevention and Life Safety message to the public. Our Chief of Fire Prevention, along with each of our three shifts, made a great effort to still get out and have interaction with the public by using proper social distancing as well as wearing the recommended face coverings.
We still had a time getting out and we sure missed the visits from the schools at the Fire Station as well as visiting them at their respective schools. We also had the “BIG” fire on Front Street that involved several businesses in our Historic District. Then to top things off, here comes Hurricane Laura and then Hurricane Delta to leave their marks on our city and state. While dealing with all of these things, we along with the rest of the city of Natchitoches employees, still continued serving our citizens and trying to improve upon what we did in previous years.
We were hoping to improve Fire Prevention Week Activities this year to get our fire safety message out in a fun and exciting way by introducing the public to some of the things we actually do at work to give those that attend a more interactive experience. COVID actually changed the way we conduct business activities as well. This has been the year of Internet-based meetings and conference calls. For the safety and health of the city workers, our doors have been closed many days during this pandemic. We are still in the building and available 24/7, 365 days a year.
Our run volume stayed in line with previous year’s numbers. We ran 2,435 calls this year as opposed to 2,404 calls last year. These figures are from Jan. 1 to Dec. 21. This is a combination of fire, emergency medical runs, hazmat calls and false alarms within our city. Our run volume increases slightly each year.
This upcoming year we are striving to improve our current fire rating. We are currently upgrading our fire reporting software to a more efficient, up-to- date product that should streamline the way we do daily equipment checks, to the way we do our reports for the runs that we make as well as improve the way we conduct fire Inspections and preplans. We are currently looking to fill a vacancy in the Fire Training and Safety Officer position and improve upon our Training facility.
There are 10 Fire Districts within Natchitoches Parish as well as the City Fire Department that can use the Training Facility that is located on the Central Louisiana Technical Community College on the Bypass next to Natchitoches Central High School. The Training/Safety Officer leads training with the city fire department as well as coordinating training with the fire districts in Natchitoches Parish.
Through great relationships and partnerships with the different Public Safety entities in our great City and Parish, we hope to continue to build a safe and healthy community for those we serve. We are working with the Bureau of EMS and the Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office to get vaccines for the Fire Service personnel in the parish.