Jacksonville City Fire Chief John Vanderhoof said 2012 was a very challenging year for his department.

His comments were made recently in the form of a report issued to the Jacksonville City Council. The report was in the State of the City Address to Council offered by Mayor Gary Fletcher.

“The uses of the multi-story burn building has diversified and improved our training program with the first live fire training conducted in 2012,” Vanderhoof said. “Insurance Service Offices re-evaluated our fire protection class rating in 2012 (as) we improved from a Class 3 to a Class 2.”

A Class 1 is the highest.

“We completed the Mobile Data terminal for all the engines and battalion chief truck,” Vanderhoof said. “We received a grant through Firehouse Subs for five multi-gas detectors.”

The fire department chaplain’s office provided personnel, family members and the community support when in March 2012 experienced the in-the-line of duty death of Capt. Donald Jones and serious injury of Engineer Jason Bowmaster, along with serious injury to a city police officer.

“Chaplin support during this incident included providing notification to members’ families, critical incident management services, and facilitation of defusing sessions,” Vanderhoof said. “The chaplain assisted the department internally by providing pastoral services, including advising and supporting employees and family, providing opportunities for voluntary Bible studies and providing critical incident stress awareness.”

Vanderhoof said the emergency medical services division continues to increase its run volume for a total of 3,216 alarms with 1,959 patients transported.

“This is an increase of four percent from 2011,” he said. “We expect the revenue from transports to increase because we expanded our transport area to include St. Vincent-North an Springhill Baptist hospitals.”

In 2012, there were 158 fires in Jacksonville.

“The Fire Marshall’s Office investigated approximately 31 of them,” Vanderhoof said. “Total value of properties was $3.077 million; total loss from fires was $963,342; with a savings of $2.113 million.”

The training division continued the mission of preparing the department’s firefighters and officers to meet the needs of the community, he said.

“The division offered 380 hours of training to each department member in 2012,” he said. “The in-house training was supplemented by outside agency training attended by department members in 2012. Outside agency training included classes offered by the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM), Arkansas Fire Academy (AFA), International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI), and the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) Public Agency Training Council (PATC).”

In addition, the department had all members become IFSAC driver operator certified.

“Several other members received the same accreditation as inspectors, instructors and company officers,” Vanderhoof said.

The department had 3,129 fire alarms in 2012 while there were 3,216 EMS alarms during the year.

2012 was also a busy year for the Jacksonville 911 Communications Office.

“From the Little Rock Air Force Base Air Show to severe weather, our Christmas snow event as well as changes in staffing and personnel structure, the year of 2012 was a busy year for the 911 center,” according to the report.

The department also updated its computer software because of software purchased by the state in 2012.