Fourth of July weekend a busy time for marine fire department
By Alissa Smith | The (Lynchburg) News & Advance Jul 5, 2017
Smith Mountain Lake Marine Volunteer Fire/Rescue Assistant Fire Chief Jason Halm pulled back on the throttle of the company fireboat as he neared a clear area of the lake.
The afternoon sun reflected off the water on July 1 as he checked the radio inside the ship’s cabin. As of 3 p.m., he had been on shift for nine hours.
Fourth of July weekend is one of the busiest times for the department, matched only by Labor Day and Memorial Day weekend, Halm said.
“It’s an ‘all hands on deck’ kind of thing,” he said. “Our incident volume sometimes doubles, if not triples.”
The department had already responded to four calls by 2 p.m., with an average of one to two calls per day on a normal weekend, he said.
“By the time we clock out at midnight tonight, we’ll probably have 10 or 15 total, whether it be calls or just to assist boaters,” he said.
Deputy Chief Ray Talley said the department has run as many as 17 calls in one day during a July 4th weekend.
“These were mostly boating incidents,” he said. “But that was during the years we had 500 calls a year.”
Nowadays, he said the department gets around 250 to 300 calls annually.
He paused and warned the crew to take a break and eat when they could.
“I’m telling you, they’re coming,” Talley said. “As it gets closer to [night], we’ll get busier.”
SMLMFR President Tommy Lovegrove said there were an excessive number of incidents as of the afternoon of July 1.
“We’ve had two patients evac’d out of here,” he said. “On Fourth of July weekend, this is typical. We gear up for it, we prep for it.”
To prep for the weekend and the subsequent increase in call volume, the normal 12 to 15 members scheduled for a weekend was bumped up to a total of 42, Halm said.
The department has a total of eight boats, with one on land in a trailer, which Lovegrove said is for fast response and is kept at Westlake.
The other seven are docked at Bridgewater Plaza, Gills Creek Marina, Indian Point Marina, Crazy Horse Marina, Virginia Dare Marina, Smith Mountain Dock and Lodge and the Waterwheel Marina.
All seven were on the water Fourth of July weekend.
“What we do is we map out the density of the accidents based on the previous two years, and then we can predict where we’re going to have accidents,” Lovegrove said. “We map them in July and August because that’s the highest density of accidents.”
That map of accidents also provides time intervals, Lovegrove said.
“So with standard linear progression models, we can tell ‘Okay, from this period on July , 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. we’re going to have four accidents between [channel markers] R26 and R30,’” he said.
“And so we put two boats out. Sure enough, that happened this year and we had instantaneous response time.”
According to data, the area between Hales Ford Bridge and channel marker R31 is the most accident-prone area, Lovegrove said.
“This is the happening spot,” Lovegrove said, explaining how the S-curve and shallow pockets play a role in the number of crashes.
The main cause is boater neglect, Lovegrove said.
Halm agreed and said that though Virginia requires drivers of personal watercraft and boats with motors more than 10 horsepower to take a boating safety course, a lot of people still don’t know basic rules.
More safety education and enforcement could help, Halm said.
Regardless, the department does what it can.
“That’s all you can do, is be ready with guys ready to roll when the pagers go off,” Lovegrove said.
Though the agency doesn’t enforce any policies, they do support ones like Operation Dry Water, an initiative by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries that ran from June 30 to July 2.
According to a VDGIF news release, Operation Dry Water means heightened enforcement of boating under the influence laws.
“If a patient’s blood alcohol level is excessive, we’re obviously treating that person, making sure they stay alive,” Lovegrove said. “We bring the paramedics to the scene, transport the patients to paramedics, give them liquids and get them rolling.”
Halm turned the 28-foot boat slowly back toward Bridgewater Marina, taking care to avoid another boat, when a handful of personal watercrafts darted in front of him.
“Yeah,” he said. “We’ll be seeing them later tonight.”.
56 entries in the News
For the complete story visit wset.com or copy and paste this link into your browser https://wset.com/news/local/crews-thankful-for-safety-of-6-people-after-boat-catches-fire-sinks-on-smlCrews thankful for safety of 6 people after boat catches fire, sinks on SMLSMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE, Va. (WSET) — Six people escaped a fire on a boat at Smith Mountain Lake on Saturday.The fire at Indian Point Marina left a little damage on a fire and rescue boat and some damage on the vinyl ...
For the complete story visit WDBJ7.com or copy and paste this link into your browser https://www.wdbj7.com/2021/03/14/smith-mountain-lake-marine-volunteer-fire-department-helps-save-boat-fire-from-spreading/Smith Mountain Lake Marine Volunteer Fire Department stops boat fire from spreading By Lindsay CaynePublished: Mar. 14, 2021 at 6:54 PM EDT|Updated: 13 hours agoHARDY, Va. (WDBJ) - Six people had to jump off board after their boat exploded near Indian Pointe Marina on...
For the complete story visit wsls.com or copy and paste this link into your browser https://www.wsls.com/news/local/2021/03/13/crews-responded-to-boat-fire-at-smith-mountain-lake/Crews responded to boat fire at Smith Mountain LakeIt’s not clear what started the fireFRANKLIN COUNTY, Va, – Emergency crews responded to a boat fire at Smith Mountain Lake Saturday afternoon.A video taken by a bystander, and posted to social media, shows crews pushing the boats away from the dock...
For the complete story visit WDBJ7 or copy and paste this link into your favorite browserhttps://www.wdbj7.com/video/2020/10/21/money-clip-returned/ A member of Smith Mountain Lake Marine Volunteer Fire Rescue emergency response dive team recovered a residents money clip that was accidently dropped in the water. Chad immediately found the money clip with all the cash and credit cards still intact. In fact the dive only lasted 45 seconds .... Wow ... what a speedy ...
For the complete story visit WFXR or copy and paste this link into your browser https://www.virginiafirst.com/news/local-news/volunteers-making-sure-swimmers-and-boaters-are-safe-at-smith-mountain-lake/2032622566
(Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia, June 8, 2018, UPDATED: June 11, 2018) Last fall Smith Mountain Lake Marine Volunteer Fire Rescue began offering lake residents a free check for stray voltage in and around their docks. After checking nearly 200 docks, an alarming 96% of the docks had some stray voltage detected in the water. The most common cause of stray voltage in the water is the result of the home’s electrical ground wire being connected to the dock&rsq...
For the complete story visit wdbj7.com or copy and paste this link into your browser:http://www.wdbj7.com/content/news/Bedford-Regional-Water-Authority-issues-water-shortage-alert-467917773.html Bedford Regional Water Authority issues water shortage alertBy Tim Saunders | Posted: Wed 4:19 PM, Jan 03, 2018BEDFORD, Va. (WDBJ7) Some customers of the Bedford Regional Water Authority are being asked to conserve water, due to low levels at Smith Mountain Lake.The authority sent out a "water ...
Stray voltage found around lake docksBy Jason Dunovant | jason.dunovant@ smithmountainlaker.com | 721-4675 (ext. 407) Oct 6, 2017Shock drowning is a real concern for Neil Harrington. As a diver with the Smith Mountain Lake Marine Volunteer Fire/Rescue Department, he makes sure to check for any possible electrical current before going into the water near docks.Last month, Harrington began providing free dock checks for homeowners. So far, he said he has found a majority of docks have some s...
Fire department funding station through membershipBy Jason Dunovant | email@example.com | 721-4675 (ext. 407) Sep 25, 2017The Smith Mountain Lake Marine Volunteer Fire/Rescue Department has kicked off a new fundraising campaign that will pay for a new firehouse with construction expected to begin in the next few months.The department is offering memberships into its 365 Club. Tom Lovegrove, department president, said the membership is exclusive to 200 people and will co...
For the complete story visit wsls.com or copy and paste the following link into your browser:https://www.wsls.com/news/virginia/franklin/sml-first-responders-use-new-tool-to-protect-themselves-from-electric-shock MONETA, Va. - First responders are warning about a big problem in the water that's completely invisible and could be deadly."You can't see... (but) as soon as you get in the water, you get hit with the electricity" SML Marine Volunteer Fire Rescue&...
For the complete story visit wsls.com of paste this link into your browserhttp://www.wsls.com/news/virginia/franklin/family-thanking-first-responders-on-smith-mountain-lake-for-rescuing-man-with-serious-back-injuryFamily thanks Smith Mountain Lake first responders for rescuing manJohn LaTorre was rushed to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital in under an hour By Rob Manch - ReporterPosted: 12:10 AM, July 18, 2017Updated: 4:10 AM, July 18, 2017 FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. - A rescue attempt on S...
Fourth of July weekend a busy time for marine fire departmentBy Alissa Smith | The (Lynchburg) News & Advance Jul 5, 2017Smith Mountain Lake Marine Volunteer Fire/Rescue Assistant Fire Chief Jason Halm pulled back on the throttle of the company fireboat as he neared a clear area of the lake.The afternoon sun reflected off the water on July 1 as he checked the radio inside the ship’s cabin. As of 3 p.m., he had been on shift for nine hours.Fourth of July weekend is one of the busi...
Man saved by SML Marine Volunteer Fire/Rescue DepartmentLaker Weekly Jul 25, 2017The Smith Mountain Lake Marine Volunteer Fire/Rescue Department assisted a man who was severely injured after falling from his boat and into water on July 12.John LaTorre, 42, fell from a water slide on a houseboat onto a railing below while out on the water with his wife and friends, said Ray Talley, SML Marine Volunteer Fire/Rescue deputy chief. The department responded to a 911 call from the boat that was n...
For the complete story visit wdbj7.com or paste this link into your browserhttp://www.wdbj7.com/content/news/Fire-department-one-step-closer-to-getting-station-in-Franklin-county-422672214.htmlFRANKLIN CO., Va. (WDBJ7) A hometown fire department moves one step closer to getting their first fire station more than 40 years after they started serving the community.The Franklin County Board of Supervisors made the unanimous decision to rezone land for Smith Mountain Lake Marine Volunteer Fire and Re...
For the complete story visit wset.com or copy and paste this link into your browserhttp://wset.com/news/local/bedford-forest-to-draw-water-source-from-smith-mountain-lake EDFORD, Va. (WSET) -- Smith Mountain Lake will soon be a main source of water for thousands of more homes. Water Authority representatives tell ABC13 that choosing Smith Mountain Lake was part of a bigger picture plan to have a reliable source of water for the next 60 years. Right now, the lake serves residents...
For the complete story visit wsls.com or copy and paste this link into your browser:http://wsls.com/2017/03/13/vehicle-drives-into-smith-mountain-lake/BEDFORD COUNTY (WSLS 10) – Bedford County first responders were dispatched to Smith Mountain Lake Monday after receiving a call about a car in the lake.The driver, who was the only person inside the vehicle, was able to get out of the car and the water.At this point it’s unclear how the car ended up in the lake.Check back for updates.&...
For the complete story visit wsls.com or copy and paste this link nto your browserhttp://wsls.com/2017/03/10/firefighters-in-bedford-county-battle-multiple-fires-in-three-hour-span/
For the complete story visit wset.com or copy and paste this link into your browserhttp://wset.com/news/local/fire-crews-respond-to-three-fires-thursday-in-bedford-co
56 entries in the News
The Smith Mountain Lake Marine Fire/Rescue is actively seeking new members. Members can be firefighters, EMT's or simply someone that wants to help the community. If you feel that you have that calling to help others, that is the person we would like to speak with. Please drop us a note on this page or submit an application at Bedford County Department of Fire and Rescue.
Remember, "MANY HANDS, MAKE LIGHT WORK"!
Application to volunteer with Smith Mountain Lake Marine Volunteer Fire Rescue. This link takes you to the Bedford County Department of Fire & Rescue
The Electric Shock Drowning Prevention Association is a 501(c) nonprofit organization devoted to saving the lives of those who frequent our recreational waters. We invite you to browse our website to learn how to protect your family from the danger of El...