Fernandina Beach Fire Chief Chuck Bogle stopped by to give us an update on the Fernandina Beach Fire and Rescue operation. 



Chuck Bogle grew up in Titusville, FL and served there as a firefighter for 25 years. He moved here to Fernandina Beach in September of this year, his decision to do so also influenced by this being where he really wants to retire. He sees this as his last move. When he gets asked, “Why here?” his answer is, “Don’t you folks realize where you live? …on an island? Do you realize that an overwhelming majority of people want to retire on an island?”

     With the growth our area experiences, he believes there are still more than enough challenges coming to keep him on his toes and fully engaged. He already speaks with pride that we are “ALS,” meaning we have a paramedic riding every truck. Fernandina Beach has two stations with a third county station on the south end of the island. Together they are a great complement of equipment and personnel.

     The benchmark for excellent service is a five-minute response time on the island. Even though fire is their primary function, basic to understanding his role as chief is to appreciate that 80% of their service is medical. As chief he prefers to see the fire department as an all-hazard department. “You call (for whatever) and we come.” Fire departments today are rated by an independent company, rating buildings and departments. The better the rating means the lower the insurance rates. Chuck’s perspective pairs up assurance vs insurance.

     Backup plans are the most challenging. As new as Chuck is, Tom Kochhesier from the audience volunteered that mixing and matching personnel and equipment between departments has a “move-up dispatch” that kicks in when exposure could overwhelm.

     It appears Chuck knows fully and completely what he is doing, but there was also a sense at this point in time that he is still feeling his way. Fortunately appearances are he knows where to look. No doubt it would be interesting at some future time to have him back when he is fully in his groove.

     In the period of questioning at the end, a couple of our area’s not yet resolved issues were raised, one of those being use of the hazmat equipment we own. Chuck shared that it is not an easy resolve. Granted response from elsewhere is lengthy, but he pointed out that to have a full hazmat team here would break the bank. “You get what you pay for, but that also has to be realistic.” There are interesting discussions and decisions ahead. And we do not currently live in a “spending” day.