The mission of the Bluefield Virginia Fire Department is to provide a high level of fire protection to the Town and surrounding unincorporated areas. Additionally, their mission is to save lives and property through the best fire protection possible.
The Bluefield Virginia Fire Department consists of approximately 21 volunteers and provides emergency response 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Fire Department operates out of a state of the art facility located at 100 North College Avenue that was completed in 1999. The completion of this new facility has allowed the department to purchase additional response equipment that was previously prevented due to the very limited space in the old station.
The State of Virginia provides a classification of fire protection services. The most efficient and comprehensive fire coverage in cities of high intensity development with paid firefighters is Class I. Class II includes smaller cities with less intense development with a paid force. Class III is reserved for incorporated towns or municipalities that provide community protection through a volunteer department. Class IV applies to cities or towns that are incorporated but have no adequate fire department, water supply, or water distribution system.
The adequacy of fire protection in a jurisdiction is determined by comparing fire defense facilities to the standard grading schedule of the Insurance Services Office (ISO). The grades range from 1-10 with a grade of one being the highest attainable score.
Fire defense standards are based on criteria such as water supply, equipment, fire prevention, structural adequacy of the building, and building floor area. The Town has a Class 6 rating within corporate limits, and those areas within 5 miles of the station and within 1,000 feet of a hydrant also qualify for a Class rating. All other response areas of the department have a Class 9 rating. A better rating in the standard grading schedule results in lower fire insurance rates for the community. Improvements to the water system that increase fire flows could lower this rating.
Volunteer membership is the backbone of the Bluefield Virginia Fire Department. The volunteers save the Town over one million dollars a year in salaries and benefits. These savings can instead be spent on more modern equipment, or they can be used for other community projects. Volunteers exhibit a high level of pride in their work because they are donating their time and expertise to the community. Volunteer members participate in training, service calls, and emergency responses, in effect leaving less time for personal and family responsibilities. Firefighters volunteer for the opportunity to help those in need.
Training occurs throughout a firefighter’s career. The Department currently has a State Certified Fire Instructor in its membership. raining occurs both in-house each week and by members attending State sponsored schools throughout the region on weekends. Various members in the Department are certified in, Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting (ARFF) for Structural Fire Departments, Confined Space Entry Awareness, Driver/Operator, Emergency Vehicle Operators Course (EVOC), Farm Machinery, Safety & Extrication, Fire Instructor, Hazardous Materials First Responder Awareness, Hazardous Materials Fire Responder Operations, L.P. Gas Emergencies, Fire Arson Detection, Incident Command System (ICS), Rope Rescue, Trench Rescue and Vehicle Rescue. Department members also participate in training throughout the year with local industry and other emergency service agencies to better prepare themselves to respond to and mitigate a wide multitude of incidents.
Fire Prevention & Public Education
Public education is a job that the Fire Department puts great efforts in by sponsoring fire prevention week activities annually. This consists of open house at the fire station, visits to area schools by volunteers to present a fire education skit/program, and media campaigns to aid in the prevention of fires. The Departments various programs reach almost 1,000 children a year.