Wise ESD No. 1 sees rise in call volume; District brings on full-time chief

By Richard Greene | Published Wednesday, January 10, 2018

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Full Time Duty

FULL-TIME DUTY – Chris Caster became the Wise County ESD No. 1 full-time chief in November. The district had 1,086 calls in 2017, an increase of more than 200 from the previous year. Messenger photo by Richard Greene

Since starting part time with Wise County Emergency Service District No. 1 in 2015, Chris Caster has seen a dramatic rise in the number of calls.

The station, serving the Boyd Fire District, went from 843 calls in his first year to 1,086 at the close of 2017.

With the growing need in the district, Caster became its first full-time chief Nov. 1. The district’s board brought Caster on full time after he left his job with the Melissa Fire Department.

The board agreed to fund the position until May, when an election can be held to ask voters for a tax increase. The board will meet Jan. 23 and may call the spring election.

“The board felt it was important [for the job] to be full time,” Caster said.

The 89-square-mile district was founded in 2001 and is funded by a 3 cents per $100 valuation property tax.

An increase in the tax rate would not only fund the chief position, but also be used to buy new equipment and add to the staff.

“It would allow us to provide better service,” Caster said.

In 2016, the district and the Boyd Fire Department merged.

While the call volume for the department has steadily increased in recent years, it has rapidly improved its average response time. In 2015, it was seven minutes and 38 seconds. Last year, the response time was two minutes and 44 seconds.

Caster credits the department’s 18 volunteers for the improvements in response times.

“We ran on 1,086 calls, and we missed less than 20 calls [in the district],” he said. “It’s a pride thing. They don’t want to miss anything.

“Our guys are fully trained. It’s a total commitment here.”

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