On January 19, 2016 Magnolia Fire Chief Gary Vincent gave an overview to the Magnolia Rotary Club members about the Magnolia Volunteer Fire Department. Pictured is Magnolia Fire Chief, Gary Vincent.
Chief Vincent told everyone that he taught college level courses on many areas of fire safety and prevention for many years prior to becoming the Fire Chief of the Magnolia Volunteer Fire Department (MVFD) about 10 years ago. He strongly believes that he and his team should be "good stewards" of the taxpayer dollars they receive. The MVFD serves approximately 200 square miles or about 20% of Montgomery County Texas. Funding for the MVFD is provided through Emergency Service District #10. Community service is provided utilizing six fire stations manned by a combination of almost 130 dedicated paid crew and volunteer firefighters.
Currently, the six fire stations utilize four 3,300 gallon tanker trucks, five 3,000 gallon tanker trucks, five 1,000 gallon tanker trucks, and four 750 gallon pumper trucks in addition to two ladder trucks to fight fires. The land for stations 7, 8, and 9 have been purchased and land for station 10 is still being sought. Around $250,000,000 will go to build the facilities and buy the trucks and equipment needed to make these three fire stations ready. One of the new stations will be located close to High Meadow Ranch to support that area. Another station will be on Highway 149 north of Magnolia High School, and the third station will be located on FM 1486. The locations of these stations was picked to best impact the ISO rating of the Fire Department which in turn affects fire insurance rates in the area. The ISO rating for thr MVFD is currently a "3" where "1" is the highest rating and "10" is the lowest rating. This rating has a direct relation to the cost of fire insurance in the area. In an attempt to keep that rating or not let it fall too much, the completion of the three new stations before September or October of 2016 is important because that is why the MVFD will be reviewed and given an up-to-date ISO rating since the last one was done in 2011. New legislation now requires the rating to be updated every 4 years. To be within a station coverage area (and thereby lower fire ratings), a building must be within five "road miles" of a fire station. Previously, the coverage area was defined as within a five mile radius of a station,
Chief Vincent told everyone that when his crew fights a fire where no fire hydrants exist, he using multiple tanker trucks going back and forth to the nearest fire hydrant to make sure the fire gets put out. Although Chief Vincent is still working on the 2015 numbers, in 2014, his crew had an amazing 90.1% record of valued saved by them. This means if they fought a fire at a building that is worth $100,000, his crew (on the average) was able to save 90.1% of the value of that building. An awesome statistics for a volunteer fire department anywhere.
Chief Vincent told everyone that the Magnolia Fire Department was founded by local citizens in 1952 ad has grown to its current size today and is expected to continue to grow as more people move into the area. Chief Vincent told everyone that he gets a great deal of support from the community and mentioned that jus a few years ago, the Westwood Magnolia Parkway Improvement District purchased a $350,000 used ladder truck (in great condition) to be housed at the fire station near the intersection of FM 1488 and FM 2978.
Chief Vincent told everyone that although their primary mission is to put out fires, about 70% of his workload is EMS related and that they spend a great deal of time helping vehicles get unstuck or getting people of of wrecked vehicles.
Chief Vincent then answered several questions from the audience before leaving for another meeting. One of the questions asked was whether or not fire trucks can use pond or lake water directly for rural fires next to one. Chief Vincent stated that although this can be done, he really prefers not to take a chance on ruining a $100,000 pump by using dirty water. He prefers that a subdivision or land owner with a lake put in a "Draft Pit" that brings clean water from the top, middle of the lake to a concrete box on shore with a fire hydrant to connect to.