By William Farhat Big Sky Fire Department

It’s hard to believe emergencies occur regularly in Big Sky, especially when you’re not directly involved–it’s such a small, pleasant community. But in reality, we’re just like any other community and have our share of emergency medical calls, rescues and fires.

Emergency medical, motor vehicle accident and rescue responses make up 70 percent of our annual call volume. In 2011, that was 316 calls. This large percentage may come as a surprise considering we’re the Big Sky “Fire” Department; however, this is less than the national average, which can be more than 80 percent in some areas. It’s for that reason that all of our paid staff and the majority of our volunteers are state licensed emergency medical technicians (six are paramedics), and that we have several ambulances to handle the load.

The remaining call volume is comprised of fire responses, hazardous materials incidents, false alarms and service calls (assisting citizens with non-emergency issues). Although infrequent, the threat of fire in Big Sky cannot be minimized for a number of reasons.

Firefighting water supplies are inadequate in much of our area. Limited assistance from neighboring fire departments compounds that, and makes bringing water and additional resources to a fire a slow process, at best. The close proximity of our structures to the forest areas, the larger size and value of many of them, and the limited access to other areas also poses concerns for the annual wildland fire season. For these reasons, we maintain a well-trained and equipped department to quickly address fires when they occur.

Chief Farhat became fire chief of Big Sky in September 2011. He can be reached at 995-2100 or wfarhat@bigskyfire.org. For additional information about Big Sky Fire, visit bigskyfire.org or its Facebook page.