Medical response dominates Port Arthur Fire Department calls; new chief talks progress

Published 12:38 am Saturday, October 2, 2021

PORT ARTHUR — Fire Chief Greg Benson updated City Council members on activity within the department, including the number of calls and a breakdown of training.

Benson, who began his role in mid-July, presented council with a slideshow of information from August through September.

“It’s one of the monthly reports that we are going to start to present to (City Manager Ron Burton) and we’ll also include an annual update to make sure everyone knows what is going on as far as the fire department goes,” Benson said.

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Looking at data from August alone, 71 percent of calls made to the fire department were medical-related.

“That’s very common within the entire United States fire service,” he said. “Medicals now are the predominant type of incidents.”

However, Benson also made special note to one of the 2.7 percent of calls involving fires that month.

“A house fire in August very early in the morning — the crew that arrived on scene found the house on fire and a patient, or I should say a victim, was inside” he said. “They were able to rescue that individual from that house.”

In addition to service calls, Benson noted training and professional development within the department.

The Port Arthur Fire Department has completed more than 625 hours of class training and 2,468 conducted on shift. There was an 8-hour training class on emergency response to electric buses, 70 hours spent on driver operator and aerial certification, 40 hours spent on trench rescue certification and more than 140 hours on fire investigation certification.

“Training and development in a fire service is very important,” Benson said. “You need to train on how to do certain things, but professional development is how to develop someone so they can move up in an organization into different positions. They train every day.”

Other highlights from the report included community initiatives and ways to educate residents on fire and medical prevention techniques.

Councilwoman Charlotte Moses was one of many to thank Benson for the report.

“I don’t recall having a progress report from the fire department,” she said. “That’s a great assessment of where you are and where you’re headed, and I really appreciate the report.”

Mayor Pro Tem Donald Frank commended on the chief’s for working with other departments in the area regarding interlocal education.

“I think one of the things that we always want to see is the crossing over and allowing ourselves to develop those relationships with other government entities in our cities, especially the school district and how it relates to our children,” he said. “And if there’s anything the fire department could do as well to create relationships with the Port, any other entities, I think that’d be wonderful as well.”