■ Kyle Selby / Reporter
Friday morning, July 7, the Hemet/San Jacinto Chamber of Commerce partnered with Hemet Fire Department to host an informative business mixer, which allowed the fire department to share their strategies and newest developments with the community, as well as introduce the newest members of the chamber.
“We’ve got some new members we’d like to recognize and showcase today,” declared Andy Anderson, chamber CEO.
City officials present included Hemet Mayor Linda Krupa, Hemet Mayor Pro Tem Michael Perciful, Hemet Councilwoman Karlee Meyer, Hemet Councilwoman Bonnie Wright, City Manager Alex Meyerhoff, and San Jacinto Mayor Scott Miller.
Chairwoman Dee Cozart distributed membership plaques to the newest chamber members: Hemet GateKeepers, SendOutCards, and Beeline Pest Control.
“We just want to be a solution to our police department, help to our fire department, and our City Council in any ways that we can,” said Pastor Steve Norman of Hemet Christian Assembly and Hemet Gate Keepers. “The nearest and dearest thing in my heart is picking up a lot of the things that are left behind.”
Every Monday throughout the rest of the summer, Norman and the Hemet Gate Keepers will perform cleanups at various blighted areas in Hemet to pick up shopping carts, trash, and abate weeds and graffiti.
“I’ve never met a community that is more engaged, more committed, and more focused on making things better,” explained Hemet Fire Chief Scott Brown. “From the beginning of my tenure here, we have been leading the way of innovation, leading the way of doing things different, and when we say we’re transparent – we’re transparent.”
Brown, a firefighter for 38 years, stated that most of the people in the room probably either had his cell phone number or business card, and he’s always adamant about returning phone calls.
“I want to focus today on what we’ve accomplished because of your support,” he said.
According to Brown, on a daily basis, Hemet Fire Department has 16 out of nearly 40 uniformed personnel staffed at five fire stations in Hemet.
In 2016, HFD responded to 16,878 calls for service; 14,090 of which were EMS calls, 327 for fires, 1,950 public service, 102 hazardous condition calls, and 95 to 100 miscellaneous calls.
Every 31 minutes, Brown said, HFD receives a call at any one of their stations. Fire Station No. 1 at 220 N. Juanita St. is the 16th busiest engine company in the entire U.S.
“To me, that’s a badge of honor,” said Chief Brown. “Our men and women of the fire department are out there 7/24.”
When Chief Brown first arrived in Hemet, he promised to accomplish two goals: reestablish service in the east end of Hemet, and turning Fire Station No. 4 into a paramedic station as well.
Today, Brown said, East Hemet has a fully staffed engine company, and as of April, Station No. 4 is now accessible to paramedic services.
Chief Brown also announced that three battalion chiefs are now on board in Hemet.
“Everybody in the fire service are brothers and sisters,” said Battalion Chief Skip Irland, a Hemet native. “Even though we have a different patch on our shoulder, we’re all doing the same job.”
Irland explained that HFD is working closely with Soboba Fire, involving them in their training programs.
Air ambulance Mercy Air representatives were also in attendance to support their relationship with HFD.
“Air transport saves lives, and it makes a difference,” said Chief Brown. Brown revealed that he is working on relocating the Mercy Air medevac helicopter on site in the Station 4 compound. “That’s the concept. That’s the vision,” he explained.
For the first time in the history of HFD, they have now allocated fiscal resources towards the hiring of two dispatchers. Two additional dispatchers will also be added next fiscal year. Brown also announced that thermal-imaging cameras have been purchased so that staff can accurately and carefully locate and regulate fires.