By LEAH STRATMANN
The regular monthly meeting of the South Walton Fire District (SWFD) board started with the announcement that Oct. 3 to Oct. 10 was Fire Prevention Week. Chief Rick Talbert noted fire prevention week was started because of the great Chicago fire decades ago.
Fire marshal Sammy Sanchez noted the theme of this year’s fire prevention week is smoke alarms, a sound you can live with. With that he introduced Susan Bland whose home fire alarms saved her family after a lightning strike started a fire in her attic.
“It was a typical Sunday afternoon and I was outside watching the brewing storm. After I went inside I closed the blinds and my husband said that wouldn’t help, but it helped me. At one point the lightning seemed very close and the second lightning strike hit the house and the smoke detector upstairs went off. We were able to get all the pets and grandchildren out of the house, my husband was able to move his car and we were outside as our house burned to the ground. I will never ever take smoke detectors for granted again,” she said. “I was so impressed with SWFD and those guys comforted me about my loss.”
Talbert said, “You and your family are living breathing examples of the benefits of smoke detectors.”
Giving his monthly report, Talbert noted SWFD continued involvement with BP until the end of September. “Chief Crawford has informed unified command they can pick up the equipment loaned to the district. We continue to see tar balls in small to moderate amounts along the 26 miles of beaches in south Walton.”
Talbert noted the fire at Barefoots at the Hilton in Sandestin was difficult to fight because of the location. “More than 41 firefighters participated with help from neighboring fire departments. At one point the fire blazed up five stories high and more than 240 rooms in the hotel were occupied, but everybody got out. The cause of the fire is under investigation,” he said.
A hiring freeze was initiated in July 2009, but there are a number of open positions that are in the budget, but unfilled. One of those is a position for an Information Technician, which has been vacant since December 2009. The board voted unanimously to fill this position since a cost analysis showed hiring a full time person is cheaper than using an outside consultant as they have been doing….
Read the full story in the October 14, 2010 edition of the Herald Breeze.