Isaacs named new BFD chief
Former Boone Fire captain Jimmy Isaacs began his duties as fire chief for the department early last week.
Isaacs applied for the position in March and the town of Boone, approximately one month before 22-year veteran chief Reggie Hassler retired from the post.
Isaacs is a lifelong resident of Watauga County. He was raised in Vilas and moved to Boone almost 30 years ago. He began fire service in 1978 as a volunteer with the Cove Creek Volunteer Fire Department.
In 1982, he joined the Boone department as a volunteer and became a full-time paid firefighter in October 1988.
"I have always been interested in fire service. It is a challenge and a way to give back to the community," Isaacs said. "It offers the possibility to save a life or property in the community."
Isaacs was drawn to the challenge of responding to situations that are not under control when he arrives.
The fire service also appeals to him with the closeness of department staff and volunteers.
"It's a close-knit organization. When you're working together, there is a lot of trust in each other, particularly in potentially dangerous situations," Isaacs said.
Isaacs wife, Melissa, and two daughters also see the fellow firefighters as firefighters. As a family, he said, they have spent many Christmas Days at the fire station. Three of the last five years, Isaacs and other Boone members have been tied up on calls.
In addition to firefighting training, Isaacs is also an EMT and certified training instructor. In recent years, he has focused his instruction on interdepartmental training, particularly dealing with the self-contained breathing apparatus, or air tanks. He said his focus on interdepartmental training was to allow the newer instructors opportunities to train outside the Boone department, gain experience and increase interaction between fire departments in the county.
As a fire captain, Isaacs' duties included day-to-day operations and emergency response responsibilities. He was also responsible for line items in the department budget regarding to day-to-day operations.
Isaacs said he is looking forward to his new duties as chief, which will include more interaction with other fire departments and agencies in the county, administrative duties and the operation of the department as a whole.
The most challenging aspect of assuming the chief position, Isaacs said, will be the transition to administration and looking at the whole picture, without losing touch with the day-to-day operation. He added he will be dealing with the entire budget for the department also, instead of the few line items he was responsible for as a captain.
"The town has put a lot of confidence in me to be a customer service department," Isaacs said. "The taxpayers and people we respond to are who we serve.
"We have an excellent group of firefighters with career staff and volunteers. That is what makes the organization. It is not the chief or captain, it's the dedicated group that makes up the department as a whole."