Bull Lake Volunteer Fire Department celebrates success

Luke Miller and David Jones receive their structural firefighter badges after successfully completed firefighting academy in Kalispell.
From left to right: Chief Clyde Miller, David Jones, Captain Janet Miller, and Luke Miller. Photo courtesy of
Val Layman

By Tracy McNew

On Sunday, Feb. 11, the Bull Lake Volunteer Fire Department (BLVFD) met to celebrate Valentine’s Day, Christmas and the new year. Their annual event, typically held in December, was postponed because the department was responding to wildfires in California.
BLVFD was in California on a Disaster Emergency Services (DES) assignment.
The Montana DES Response Branch, according to their website, “is charged with coordinating operational response at the state level for any incident, emergency, or disaster that exceeds the capabilities of the local jurisdiction.”
Aid was requested from the state of California’s Office of Emergency Services when early-December wildfires were ravaging southern California.
Bull Lake was one of fourteen rural, city, county and volunteer fire departments that agreed to assist.
Their vehicle and crew returned home in late December after a successful response.
In 2017, said Chief Clyde Miller, the BLVFD was dispatched to help with many different wildfires because of a record breaking fire season. By the time BLVFD was called to California though, they were no longer needed on Montana fires, so the timing worked out for everything except their Christmas party.
“We had an active and successful year,” said Miller at the annual event.
He also shared the news that Jake Ganieany, the Response and Recovery Branch Manager for Montana’s DES was told by representatives from California’s how appreciative they were and how they complemented BLVFD’s response and performance while on assignment there.
Following their annual event, BLVFD volunteers travelled to Billings on Feb. 13 and 14 to present at Montana’s DES meeting. Engine Boss, Abbie Miller presented there about volunteering and the fire department today, along with their experiences on the California assignment.
Coming up on March 16, BLVFD will host the Northwest Fire/ Rescue Alliance meeting.
The group of dedicated volunteers also meet monthly for department business meetings, weekly for training sessions, and of course, they respond to emergency calls.
Although it isn’t fire season, between their January and February business meetings, BLVFD responded to eight emergency medical services calls, one personal assistance call, and one motor vehicle accident.
In addition they met with DNRC Libby Unit Fire Management Officer ,Logan Sandman. They attended the Lincoln County Fire Co-op meeting in Libby, and they attended the Lincoln County LEPC meeting in Libby.
Trainings during the same time frame included ice rescue, low angle rope rescue, CPR recertification and safety related to a fatality firefighter entrapment incident. This incident was reviewed so that similar situations can be avoided.
Future plans for BLVFD include continuing to train so that all volunteers are well-prepared, recruiting new members, maintaining and upgrading equipment and vehicles, and fundraising to build their new fire house which will no longer be located at the entrance of Angle Island. The new site, located close by on Hwy. 56, has been in the pre-construction phase for over a year and the BLVFD is anxious to move forward on the much-needed expansion.
“We continue to strive to improve our fire department so we can be prepared and available to this community whenever we are needed.”, said Chief Clyde Miller at their annual event.
BLVFD appreciates receiving support from the community and surrounding areas. Anyone interested in learning more is encouraged to contact Chief Clyde or Janet Miller at 295-0126.