Inside Fire Truck Saint Thomas

GOVERNMENT BUILDING

St. Thomas

Fire Station 1

Fire stations are an iconic place where many of us as children aspire to live out a life long dream one day. Excitedly we enter the garage where the 4 currently in use fire trucks sit parked immaculately cleaned and effervescent in the bold fire engine red, we all know so well.

Upon meeting the Chief of Fire Prevention Kim Destun, she is immediately welcoming ready to assist us in any way she can. She has a more varied career past than what is typical of this industry. She initially went to school for law and security, but began her career in Animal Control. Next, she took as job as a Dispatcher which she held for 20 years, went on to Fire Prevention and from there holds her current position as Fire Chief.

She easily states her parent's as being her biggest influence growing up and when she isn’t busy being the Chief of Fire Prevention, she enjoys the hobby farm they have on their property. When asked what is most rewarding about her career she says “when you’ve taught someone something and it works.” She also mentions educating the public, fire investigations and fire inspections.

For the young audiences out there aspiring to become fire fighters one day and for those who like to know more of what takes place behind-the-scenes Kim is very forthcoming in her responses. A strong focus on Math and Science as well as being physically fit, community minded and a mindset of perseverance will give future fire fighters a much better advantage when going into their chosen field.

For anyone who has ever visited a fire hall we soon learn there is much more to fire fighting than fighting fires. The entire team is a full time, employed and

because they are on shifts of 4 days and 4 nights at a time it is a second home for them. It is where they eat, sleep and complete all their daily tasks such as; maintenance and yard work. They also respond to calls for gas leaks, car accidents, water rescues and medical calls having the most.

As far as what services the fire department offers to the public Kim lists several; rescue service, ice water rescue, automobile extraction, paramedic medical

calls, fire investigation, public education and code enforcement.

Rest assured if you need to call the fire department their response time is excellent at around 5 minutes with each stage of the call being timed. From the

moment the call comes in to the moment the dispatcher hits the bell, from the moment the fire fighters get into their trucks which is called turn out time. It even goes as far back as the alarm company alerting the fire department. Kim says their response time is where it needs to be at 90% of the time. “we’re everywhere we need to be within 5-10 minutes. 10 minutes at the furthest reaches of town.”

When asked what is most challenging for the St. Thomas fire department currently ‘change’ is one word that would sum it up in its entirety. Kim mentions retirements, which creates staff changeover as well as how quickly St. Thomas itself is

growing.

As far as physical resources such as; fire stations, training facilities, fire apparatus, personal protective safety equipment, is what we have in our community adequate to meet our level of risk? And the answer is yes as it is the Fire Chief’s job as well as City Council’s to ensure the NFPA standards are being met at all

times.

One can never be too prepared when an emergency arises so fire safety should be a top priority in our homes. Kim emphasizes “know the cooking rules.” and “never leave cooking food unattended.” It is good to have a fire extinguisher, but if the need arises to use it, she once again stresses to first call 911, then use the fire extinguisher. The top 3 things to remember during a fire are the following;

1.      GET OUT, STAY OUT

2.      IF IN DOUBT CALL 911

3.      STAY LOW, CRAWL UNDER SMOKE

In regard to smoke alarms, the number one preventative measure for a house fire it is imperative

and the law to have them in your home. If you are renting it is the landlord’s responsibility and they can be fined if this does not take place. Even for

those individuals that are unable to install their own smoke alarms there are programs available to the community to assist with this. Smoke alarms should be tested once a month, batteries changed twice a year and the smoke alarm itself should be replaced every 10 years or according to the date stamped on it.


Throughout our entire visit one can almost imagine an emergency call coming through where mere seconds could mean the difference between life or death. It is a humbling thought knowing we are in the presence of what some of us like to call real life heroes. However, upon meeting the crew and Kim it is clear they are all just human like the rest of us which is why it is a title that is often shirked by many in this field of work as for most of them it is more about a passion, they have for helping others and doing good for their community. They do their work proudly, but humbly.