About Us

The Port Arthur Fire Department protects 54,000 people living in an area of 76.9 square land miles. The department operates out of (7) fire stations that protect a primarily industrial area. Our department is a fully paid, full-time, civil service fire department with 107 staff; 105 uniformed personnel, providing the city with a fire protection rating of (2) as provided through studies by the Insurance Services office. The scale is based on values from (1 – 10) with the lower end of the scale being considered as best. The City's Insurance Services Office (ISO) Public Protection Classification (PPC) has improved from a Class 3 to a Class 2, after a review in April 2014 by ISO. The effective date of the change is January 1, 2015.

LARRY RICHARD, FIRE CHIEF
(409) 983-8738


ROBERT HAVENS, DEPUTY FIRE CHIEF
(409) 983-8734


The Port Arthur Fire Department consists of the following division: Administration, Suppression, Training, Prevention, and Communications.

ADMINISTRATION:
Business (409) 983-8740
Fax (409) 983-8719

The Administrative Division consists of the Fire Chief, Deputy Fire Chief, and the Administrative Secretary, Mrs. Carol Doty. The Division is responsible for the operation of 105 uniformed firefighters and two secretaries including goals and objectives, policies and procedures, assigning personnel, budgeting, payroll and other essential duties and responsibilities. Administration is located at Central Fire Station, 300 Waco Ave. in downtown Port Arthur.

SUPPRESSION: Battalion Chief's office
(409) 982-9598
Fax (409) 983-9599

The Suppression Division is headed by (1) of three Battalion Chiefs. Each Battalion Chief, when on duty, supervises (7) engine companies and (1) ladder/rescue company; each with (3) paid personnel (Captain, Engineer, and Firefighter). A-shift Battalion Chief is Berton Jay Fountain; B-shift Battalion Chief is Jeremy Holland; C-shift Battalion Chief is Patrick Murphy. The Suppression Battalion Chiefs operate out of Fire Station #1, 1215 Woodworth Blvd.

 TRAINING: The Training Division is headed by Mike Free, the Training Battalion Chief. The Training Battalion Chief assures that all uniformed personnel receive the mandated continuing education hours for firefighter certification (20 hours annually), Hazwoper {hazardous materials} Training (8 hours annually), and Emergency Medical Training (20 hours annually), and additional training as required by the Insurance Services office.

PREVENTION: The Fire Prevention Division is headed up by Mark Mulliner, Fire Marshal. The fire marshal is also a Battalion Chief rank. The Division has (1) Assistant Fire Marshal, Paul Washburn, and (1) Fire Inspector, Jarrod Brannon. The Secretary for the Fire Prevention Bureau is Brenda Martin. The Fire Marshal also supervises (6) on shift arson investigators (certified arson investigators and licensed peace officers) and (2) certified fire investigators. The Fire Prevention Division is responsible for arson investigation, fire code enforcement, building inspections, plan reviews for new and remodel construction and fire protection systems, public education, and investigating citizen complaints. The Fire Prevention Division is located at Central Fire Station, 300 Waco Ave.

COMMUNICATIONS: The Communications Division is headed by John Tatroe, Coordinator of Support Services. The Coordinator of Support Services is responsible for direct supervision of (20) Telecommunication Officers (TCO's). The Coordinator oversees budgeting, scheduling, hiring, and other essential duties and responsibilities. The Dispatch Center is a combined Fire and Police Communication Center with Enhanced 911 capabilities and is located at 645 – 4th Street, next door to Central Fire Station.

DEPARTMENT OVERVIEW: The Port Arthur Fire Department is usually very busy each year in all aspects of the fire service including fire suppression, hazardous materials response, rescues, emergency medical responses, investigations, capital improvements, homeland security, grants management and fire prevention. The Fire Department responds to over 8,000 calls for service each year. There are approximately 150 residential fires and an approximate 175 total structure fires annually. In past history, there was an average of 2 to 4 fire related deaths each year.

As a registered First Responder organization under the Department of State Health Services, the Fire Department responds to over 6000 emergency medical calls annually. The department is making great strides in providing quality first on scene emergency medical assistance by providing continuing education for ECA and EMT certifications for nearly all fire fighters. The department has a contract with the City's Health Director to include duties as the Medical Director of the Fire Department. The department has also placed Automatic External Defibrillators (AED) on each of its fire engines.

The Port Arthur Fire Department has a number of highly trained special teams which respond to calls for service with special circumstances or hazards causing immediate danger to individuals or the public as a whole. These teams include special activities such as: Hazardous materials response; High-angle rescue; Confined space rescue; Swift and Deep water rescue; and a dive team for emergency underwater rescue or recovery operations. Special equipment and apparatus are required to conduct these special operations and with the assistance of federal grants, equipment such as a hazardous materials / heavy rescue truck, a hazardous materials response equipment trailer, and (5) water rescue vessels in a variety of different sizes were purchased and put into operation. In addition, the Fire Department houses and maintains a Mobile Unified Command Vehicle which may be used for joint operations during large emergency responses or emergencies of long duration.

The Bureau of Fire Prevention conducts fire safety inspections of businesses to identify and mitigate hazards, conducts investigations to determine the origin and cause of fires occurring within the community, provides fire safety education, as well as other activities. Fire Marshal's work with property owners, architects, engineers, and building contractors to assist in design of new and remodeled structures to verify that they are code compliant and providing the fire and life safety equipment necessary to protect not only the building occupants, but also to help reduce the amount of loss to the property should a fire occur. The Bureau of Fire Prevention distributes Community Development Block Grant smoke detectors to low-to-moderate income households protecting Port Arthur residents. Finally, the Bureau of Fire Prevention operates under the 2012 edition of the International Fire Code. The division also includes a special operation canine which has been specifically trained and certified in detection of (11) different explosive compounds and components. Antonio Mitchell, Canine Handler, spent many intensive hours of training with the canine to become certified to work hazardous situations where explosive materials are identified or suspected. The department has been utilizing an explosive detection canine since 1999, shortly after the Columbine School incident changed the method of response and operation in these types of emergencies.

OUR MISSION

We protect lives and property by delivering an all-hazard prevention and mitigation service which includes: Fire Prevention and Education, Firefighting, Medical Emergency Patient Care, Technical Rescue, Dive and Water Rescue Operations, hazardous Materials Incident Management, and other services to address threats to our community.


OUR VISION

To be an organization that continuously evaluates what we do and how we do it so that we adapt to changes and challenges and thereby better serve the needs of the community.


OUR CORE VALUES

Consideration: for the public we serve and each other; to do unto others as we would have them do unto us.
Quality: a commitment of our talents and energy to produce excellence in the service we provide externally to the public and internally to each other; doing everything as though our individual names were written on it.
Professionalism: mastering our craft through education and training; and applying the mastery gained to the services we deliver.
Pride: a humble, but earned self-respect in our accomplishments.
Honor: through our actions, meriting the esteem of the public and our peers.
Integrity: a commitment to do right, legally and morally.


History of the Port Arthur Fire Department

 On August 19, 1897, the executive committee of the Port Arthur Club held a meeting and addressed the matter of the need of fire protection. In that meeting, it was decided that the first and most essential thing is a means of alarm in case of a fire. Messrs. Laughlin and McDonald were appointed to solicit funds to purchase a good fire bell. Messrs. McReynolds and Laughlin were appointed to organize at least one fire company. They were to drill and use them as a bucket brigade until suitable fire apparatus was secured. (Port Arthur Herald, August 19, 1897)

George R. Stearns was appointed to serve as Fire Chief in 1897 and under his leadership established a bucket brigade and obtained a hand drawn hose cart.

Chief F. J. Trost became Fire Chief in 1900. On May 13, 1905 the Port Arthur Fire Department consisted of the following: F. J. Trost, Fire Chief (Photographer of the famous Lucas Oil Well discovery); J. B. Coe, Assistant Chief; Alex McClelland, Captain Hose Co. No. 1; William Wallets, Driver Engine No. 2; Blonde Riley, engineer and volunteer fireman.

The first fire station was located under the two story wood building housing City Hall on Austin Avenue between Fifth and Sixth Streets. The firefighting equipment consisted of one steamer with a capacity of 500 gallons per minute, one Halloway combination steel wagon carrying one 60 gallon fire hose, 2 hand extinguishers, extension and roof ladders, axes, buckets, pike poles, crowbars and wire cutters. A complete fire alarm system was installed consisting of 22 alarm boxes well distributed over the City and most conveniently located.

The year of 1908 saw the beginning of a paid fire department when a new horse-drawn apparatus was purchased and a full time driver was hired. In 1913 two more horse-drawn wagons were added to the department along with a horse-drawn hook and ladder wagon. Also, in 1913, the Austin Avenue Fire Station was relocated to a new two-story building at Waco Avenue and Fourth Street that also housed City Hall and the Police Station. Two additional fire stations were built – No. 2 Fire Station at Houston Avenue and Thomas Boulevard, and No. 3 Fire Station at Fifth Street and Vicksburg Avenue.

In 1917, all the horses were put out to pasture by the new internal combustion powered mechanical fire apparatus. A 1916 model American LaFrance 1000 gallon piston pumper, two 300 gallon piston pumpers, and an aerial ladder truck with a 65 foot extension ladder were all purchased from American LaFrance Fire Equipment Company. In 1922, a 650 gallon pumper was added and in 1924, a REO Chemical truck was added. W. Clyde LaRose became Fire Chief in 1919. The personnel of the fire department consisted of a Chief, Assistant Chief, five Captains, one mechanic, one electrician, a Fire Marshal, and a crew of thirty-five men.

In 1925, the City purchased two 1924 American LaFrance 750 gallon piston pumpers and an American LaFrance City Service Truck. The City also built three new fire stations – No. 4 Fire Station at Tenth Street and Second Avenue, No. 5 Fire Station at Fourteenth Street and Augusta Avenue, and No. 6 Fire Station at Grannis Avenue and Thomas Boulevard. At City Hall, Waco Avenue and Fourth Street, a PBX telephone switchboard system was installed. Switchboard operators were placed on duty 24 hours a day to receive fire calls. Another alarm receiving system installed was the Gamewell Fire alarm pull boxes located in various parts of the City.

J. C. Enright became Fire Chief in 1929. In 1933, the Fire Department manpower was reduced, due to the Great Depression, to 18 firemen out of Central Fire Station. All other Fire Stations in the City were closed. The eighteen firemen that remained on the department at the time were: Dave P. Rachal, Lester Hebert, J. M. Woods, Eugene Ray, Dave Montgomery, Ralph Rachal, L. Clyde Duggan, Tommy Taylor, Edison L. Etheridge, L. Westbrook, Jim Salyer, Frank Finchum, Alvin O. Montomery, Jake Freeman, Bill Woods, C. E. Wilson, Wesley F. Bryan, and Otto LeBlanc.

On June 1, 1934, Dave P. Rachal was appointed to Fire Chief and began his stewardship with one fire station and 18 firemen. By July 4, 1948, the Fire Department had 43 employees, under Chief Rachal's leadership, including Assistant Fire Chief Eugene Ray, Assistant Fire Chief Jim Salyer, Fire Marshal A. L. Manuel, Captain Ralph Rachal, Captain Ed Sykora, Mechanic L. J. Hebert and Assistant Mechanic George Aucoin. The department was operating out of three stations, including a newly rebuilt and occupied on January 7, 1948, Central Fire Station at Waco Avenue and Fourth Street. No. 2 Fire Station was located at Houston Avenue and Thomas Blvd. No. 3 Fire Station was located at Vicksburg Avenue and Fifth Street. There was also No. 4 Fire Station which was under construction at Tenth Street and Second Avenue. A PBX switchboard was placed in operation upstairs at the new Central Fire Station with firemen dispatching. Also, two way radios were placed into operation on June 30, 1949 at the dispatching office and radios were installed in each fire truck.

August 14, 1956, Eugene Ray was appointed Fire Chief with 68 employees on the fire department, consisting Assistant Fire Chief Jim Salyer, Assistant Fire Chief W. H. “Bill” Woods, (12-5-56), Training Officer J. W. Woods, Fire Marshal A. L. Manuel, Secretary Howard J. Bourque, Mechanic Lester Hebert and Assistant Mechanic George Aucion. In 1958 all fire fighting personnel started working 10 hours on a day shift and 14 hours on the night shift with two days off in a seven day work period for a total of 60 hours a work week.

On September 14, 1960, Harry Hebert was appointed Fire Chief. There were 78 employees on the fire department payroll, including Assistant Fire Chief Wm. “Bill” Woods, Assistant Fire Chief Fred Collida (11-5-60), Training Officer James W. Woods, Fire Marshal Howard J. Bourque, Mechanic Lester Hebert, Assistant Mechanic George Aucoin and 71 fire fighters. Port Acres was annexed into the City in 1960. A new fire station was built at 2232 Canal Street and 12 new fire fighters were employed.

On February 1, 1975, Clifford P. Barbay was appointed Fire Chief. The fire department staff included Assistant Fire Chief Pat Preddy, Assistant Fire Chief Fred Collida, Assistant Fire Chief Joe Richard, Assistant Fire Chief Louis Miller, Fire Marshal Howard J. Bourque and 86 other fire personnel who manned Central Fire Station and four substations. The City covered 57 square miles of land area and at that time, responded to 1,200 emergency runs per year.

In the late 1970's, the towns of Lakeview, Pear Ridge and Griffing Park were consolidated into the City of Port Arthur. The City of Port Arthur annexed the area of Sabine Pass in 1978 and placed a three-man pumper in service at the former water district building in Sabine Pass. This annexation and consolidation increased the size of the City to 135 square miles that included 54 square miles of water. In 1980, the Fire Department opened and placed a three man pumper at No. 7 Fire Station at 6554 Gulfway Dr. In 1988, the Fire Department opened a new No. 4 Fire Station at 5030 South Gulfway Dr. in Sabine Pass.

 In 1991, an Ad Hoc Citizens Advisory Committee was formed to make recommendations on fire station relocations and services. Fire Chief Clifford P. Barbay and Fire Marshal Stephen L. Curran led the Ad Hoc Committee that included two Port Arthur Fire Captains, John Avery (Ad Hoc Chairman) and Garry Sewell. A fire station relocation plan was developed with three new fire stations to be constructed along with many operational improvements in the department including a First Responder Program, Arson Investigation improvements, and other Suppression and Prevention improvements. The first fire station to be constructed from the plan was in 1992, when No. 8 Fire Station was built at 7800 – 9th Avenue. The station was funded by the Municipal Utilities District, given to the City of Port Arthur, and opened and manned by the City with the three man crew from No. 7 Fire Station which was then closed. In 1993, No. 5 Fire Station was then relocated from 3801 Lewis Drive to a new building at its current location of 6099 Lewis Foster Drive with the same three man crew from the old fire station. The old fire station was closed. The relocation will provide for better response times within the coverage district. Then, in 1996, the third station was constructed under the Ad Hoc plan with the new No. 1 Fire Station being located at 1215 Woodworth Blvd. The equipment, apparatus, and personnel were then moved from the Central Fire Station building to the new station along with the Battalion Chief. Central Fire Station continues to operate as the Fire Administration and Fire Prevention office building. This completed the main part of the station relocation plan. Only No. 6 Fire Station remained to be relocated at a later date. Additional Ad Hoc recommendations included a new First Responder Program. Firefighters were required to up-grade their training for first on-scene medical emergencies. All new firefighters are now certified as EMT's. The improvements in the area of arson investigation included additional training for six individuals working on shift (two per shift) to hold certification in fire and arson investigation as well as being licensed peace officers. Fire Marshal Stephen Curran and Assistant Fire Marshal Mark Mulliner recommended and implemented this program to improve on investigations being conducted on fires occurring within the jurisdiction. These investigators operate similar to a patrol officer and investigate the fire scene, gathering information and evidence, and submitting the case to the Fire Marshal's for follow up investigation. Occurrences of arson fires were reduced following implementation of this program. The Ad Hoc Committee recommended that the Fire Chief create an Assistant Fire Chief Position and fill it. In 1995, a new Deputy Fire Chief position was created, tested and filled by Stephen L. Curran. In 1995, the fire department was comprised of Fire Chief Clifford P. Barbay, Deputy Fire Chief Stephen L. Curran, Fire Marshal Patrick K. Murphy, Battalion Chief James Baumgartner, Battalion Chief Bill Wallace, Battalion Chief Harvey LaGrappe, and Training Battalion Chief Louis Miller.

Tremendous industrial marine growth along the ship channel all the way to Sabine Pass, including Pleasure Island, made it necessary to provide specialized service for these industries. These services include high-angle rescue and confined space rescue teams, hazardous materials teams and equipment, swift water and deep-water search and rescue boat operators, and rescue divers and equipment.

On December 4, 2000, Carroll Buracker & Associates, Inc. conducted a comprehensive evaluation of the Port Arthur Fire Department. A final report was submitted to the City including acknowledgements, study methodology, structure of the report, and an introduction to the study team members. The Executive Summary included the following conclusions:
  1. It gave the setting of the City and City Governance and then went on to discuss the fire department and assessed the workload and risks. In particular, the report pointed out that ships and their contents, seaport and petrochemical refining, storage, pipeline and other transport related risks, rail and tanker trucks, are highly unusual risks.
  2. The fire department organization and rank structure is consistent with many of the fire departments previously viewed by the Study Team.
  3. Under Safety and Health, it was recommended to implement improved safety policies and procedures and implement a physical fitness program.
  4. As a registered First Responder Organization, the report said that the fire department has a progressive state-of-the-art approach to providing quality EMS services; this EMS First Responder service should be maintained.
  5. With the reduction in the Insurance Service Office (ISO) rating from 5 to 3, the report said that Port Arthur stakeholders should be proud of this accomplishment.
  6. The report commended the City for its major initiative to improve the water distribution system by building a new water plant.
  7. Continue using Mutual Aid and adopt automatic mutual aid procedures with surrounding municipalities.
  8. Continue to place the highest priority on the proper maintenance of fire apparatus and replacement. Replace the snorkel/ladder unit as soon as possible. Consider a second ladder truck, if projected development occurs in the future.
  9. Fire station locations were considered using the unique geographic layout of the city and the intermixed petro-chemical facilities in the area. The Study Team was impressed with the extent to which nationally recognized standards and criteria appeared to be met. Relocate No. 6 Fire Station to Hwy. 73 and Ninth Avenue.
  10. The report indicated that the fire department has a state-of-the-art computer network for training records. The fire department should be commended for having the foresight and placing the priority on the implementation of this computer network.
  11. Improve Fire Prevention by inspecting all properties and perform inspections by fire station assigned personnel. Implement a comprehensive public fire education program.
  12. Maintain the minimum staffing of three personnel for engines and the snorkel/ladder trucks.
  13. Dispatching should phase out the front desk job, implement unit level dispatch of fire apparatus, implement fire stations tone-alerting with the current citywide alerting approach phased out.
  14. Monitor workload over the next five to ten years relative to a fire station on Pleasure Island.

On Tuesday, April 3, 2001, Port Arthur City Council members approved purchase of land to relocate No. 6 Fire Station from 3301 Memorial Blvd. to 4448 Ninth Avenue.

On Monday, July 23, 2001, Fire Chief Clifford P. Barbay retired after 40 years of service, and 26 years as the longest reigning Fire Chief for the City of Port Arthur.

On September 1, 2001, Senate Bill 382 went into effect after being signed into legislation on June 15, 2001 by Governor Rick Perry. The new legislation required PASS devices, SOP's on incident command, accountability, and most importantly, OSHA Standard 1910.134(g)(4), the 2-in 2-out rule.

On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, the World Trade Buildings in New York City were attacked and destroyed with airplanes overtaken by terrorists. Terrorists also attacked the Pentagon and Flight 93 with over 3,500 United States citizens killed. There were 343 New York firefighters killed. Another terrorist attack using Anthrax was introduced in the mail service in New Jersey where more US citizens were killed. By the end of 2001, the Port Arthur Fire Department had responded to 67 Anthrax/power scares. None tested positive for incidents in Port Arthur.

In a press release on February 28, 2002, Steve Fitzgibbons, City Manager announced that he would be asking City Council at the March 5th City Council meeting to confirm Acting Fire Chief Stephen L. Curran as permanent Fire Chief. Chief Curran had served as Acting Fire Chief since July 21, 2001 when Fire Chief Clifford P. Barbay retired. Prior to serving as Acting Fire Chief, Chief Curran served as Deputy Fire Chief since 1995 and had been with the fire department for twenty-six years. The Port Arthur City council unanimously approved the appointment on March 5, 2002.

On June 14, 2004, Larry Richard was appointed as the fire chief replacing Stephen Curran when Fire Chief Curran retired from Port Arthur Fire Department. Fire Chief Richard was hired as a Firefighter with the fire department in June 1981 and promoted to Fire Engineer April 1986. He was then promoted to Captain December 1990; then Training Battalion Chief August 1998. When Stephen Curran received his appointment to Fire Chief in 2002, it created a vacancy in the Deputy Fire Chief position and Larry Richard was promoted to fill that position in January 2003. Since Fire Chief Richard took his post, he has led the fire department in a number of major crisis', such as several major hurricanes, several tropical storms, a train derailment, and several pipeline leaks, one involving a major explosion. Chief Richard oversaw the construction of new Fire Station Number 6 located at Highway 73 and 9th Avenue and the rebuilding of Fire Station Number 4 in Sabine Pass (twice Hurricane Rita in 2005; Hurricane Ike in 2008).