CP Rotary hears about fire department operations
BY KITTY CONLEY firstname.lastname@example.org June 9, 2014 8:24PM
Crown Point Division Chief, Mark Baumgardner, Sr., at work. | Kitty Conley/Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 10, 2014 1:27PM
CROWN POINT — Residents of any city expect fire and emergency services to be there when they need them. But what do these service providers need in order to provide urgent assistance?
Mark Baumgardner, Sr., the Crown Point Fire Rescue Department Division Chief of Operations, gave a presentation on the topic to the Crown Point Rotary last week, discussing the growth of services.
Baumgardner is responsible for making sure regular operations run smoothly, which requires adequate equipment and staffing.
“Our funding is all from tax dollars. Our equipment is very expensive. A new truck can cost between $1 million to $1.5 million,” Baumgardner said.
He said the department tries to keep fire trucks for 20 years, while an ambulance usually lasts 10 to 12 years. All equipment is housed in one station, which he said was unusual for a city the size of Crown Point.
“That is something unique to Crown Point. Other places have two to three stations,” Baumgardner said.
As the city grows, the logistics of opening another station have been discussed. Twenty-eight full-time professional firefighters are employed, most of whom also are paramedics.
We try to get anywhere in five minutes,” Baumgardner said.
With the current staff, personnel can get one truck and two ambulances out the door in less than a minute.
Because the department is part of the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS), a network of other departments is available to lend a hand.
Attendees at the Rotary meeting also were interested in local businesses’ ties to emergency services, which, Baumgardner said, can be related to department ratings.
The city previously got a rating of 5 after testing by the state, while unincorporated Center Township received a 7 after adding to staff numbers and the addition of a new water tower since the last ISO rating 10 years ago.
Lower ISO ratings bring lower fire insurance costs for businesses and homeowners.
Crown Point Fire Rescue also is involved in various philanthropic efforts in the community, providing both financial assistance and moral support to children attending Hoosier Burn Camp — an opportunity for child burn victims still recovering from the physical and emotional pain that comes with such trauma.
“These children that have sustained scars over their bodies sometimes don’t want to be seen and withdraw into themselves,” Baumgardner said, explaining the importance of the various activities the camp provides.
The camp is staffed entirely by volunteer medical personnel, with firefighters, paramedics and police officers from all over the state — fire engines, ambulances and motorcycles in tow — in attendance to show their support.
Recently, Baumgardner’s son, Crown Point firefighter/paramedic Lt. Mark Baumgardner, Jr., accepted a challenge and took the plunge into the 57-degree Lake Michigan waters to raise funds for the cause. His dogs, Cocoa & Wrigley, took the dive with him. “We donated to the Lake County Animal Shelter on their behalf,” Baumgardner, Jr. said.