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The Bedford Volunteer Fire Department celebrated a busy 2013, its 125th year, with an awards dinner at the Welcome Center on Saturday.
Bedford’s fire department is the busiest of the county’s volunteer fire departments because it has a first due area that includes 182 square miles of the county. It’s also one of the most densely populated parts of the county with the U.S. 460 corridor running through it.
Bedford Fire Chief Brad Creasy said the department responded to 716 emergency calls in 2013 with an average reaction time of four minutes. Reaction time is the amount of time that elapses between the time the call is first dispatched to the time the first fire truck rolls out of the firehouse. The department’s average on-scene time, the time that elapses between the first unit hitting the street to the time the first unit arrives on scene, is five minutes in the town and nine minutes in the county. Creasy said the fire department put in 6,035 man-hours responding to calls. Wagon 1, the fire department’s heavey rescue vehicle, made 534 runs last year.
One of the department’s rescues was of a motorcyclist pinned beneath a small truck. The responders were able to use air bags and cribbing to get the man out.
“I’d really like to thank our spouses,” said Creasy.
A majority of the firefighters are married men and Creasy said they couldn’t do it without their wive’s support because this volunteer work can often mean they have to leave in the middle of a meal or family activities.
Creasy also looked at major accomplishments.. The department is on the way to replace a 1988 vintage pumper and expects the new fire truck to be delivered in August. The department also put a Polaris Ranger utility task vehicle (UTV) into service. This is a small, four-wheel-drive off-road vehicle that can get into remote spots. The BVFD also has thermal imaging cameras in all four of its front line trucks. These cameras allow firefighters to see fires burning inside walls.
Other improvements were less dramatic, but vital. One is the project to build a restroom facility at the training site.
“We can’t say what we used to do 25 years ago — go behind a tree,” Creasy commented. He noted that the fire department now has a female firefighter.
The fire department’s Facebook page is getting a lot of attention. It now has 7,600 likes, the second highest in Virginia. Only Virginia Beach’s fire department has more. The fire department also has 608 twitter followers