Men's Breakfast, December 10, 2016

The Men’s Breakfast Group met Saturday, December 10th with Chris Motley, Freeport Fire Chief.  Chris was raised in Freeport and started volunteering with the fire department as a teenager.  He went to work for the city and remained a volunteer with the department.  He worked up to various responsible positions over the last twenty years.  Before his recent promotion he was fire marshal and worked in the building inspection department.  He was recently promoted to fire chief. 

The Freeport Fire and Emergency Medical services department has seventeen employees.  Freeport is unique among the local cities in that the department is almost entirely paid employees.  There are a couple of volunteers left from when it was a volunteer department.  The employees are all cross trained as emergency management technicians and as firemen.   There are several levels of training up to cardiac care.  Chris tries to have a person with the highest level on each shift.  Most calls are 911 calls for medical emergencies, about two a day.  There is only about one fire call per week. 

Years ago fire calls were much more common.  The decrease is due to better building standards and regulations.  Modern building codes require better materials and construction.  Larger buildings, including apartment complexes, now require sprinklers.   The most common fires are kitchen fires where someone leaves an unattended pot on the stove that eventually causes a fire.  With a sprinkler, the fire is put out by the time the fire crew arrives and people can move back into their apartments within an hour.  Previously most fires were caused by faulty electrical systems.  Chris said that most of the houses with faulty electrical systems have already burned down. 

The department is supported by appropriations from the city budget, donations on the water bill and insurance payments.  The department, unlike EMS services in other cities, is not in the transport business of taking people from nursing homes to hospitals or from hospital to hospital.   When a patient is taken to the hospital in an emergency his insurance company is billed.  The patient is then sent a bill for the balance.  However, the department does not collect from residents of Freeport who make donations on the water bill. 

Chris is also the emergency coordinator for the city.  This is important during hurricane evacuations.  People who do not have transportation for evacuating during a hurricane or a place to go should call 211 at the beginning of hurricane season.  This will allow the city to anticipate the need for citizens.  If you can drive or be driven you need to drive to the fairgrounds in Angleton.  The fire department will evacuate those that cannot drive.  Evacuations will take place well before landfall because they want to avoid cross traffic from Houston evacuation.  Freeport’s evacuation shelters are in Bell County.  If you do not have friends to stay with and can drive you can find Freeport shelters in Bell County.

The men had an interesting discussion and a good breakfast.  The next meeting will be Saturday, January 14th with Ernie and Jocelyn Hutchings, pastors at Freedom House Church, as featured guests.