After more than 23 years of serivce to the Bridge City fire department, James Fisette, was recently elected to be the new Fire Chief.

Fisette, who has lived in Bridge City his entire life and graduated from Bridge City High School in 1975, started as a junior firefighter in July 1974. He continued working as a volunteer firefighter for about 15 years while also working as a reserve police officer for area agencies. As his schedule became increasingly busy, he was forced to quit the fire department for about 12 years. But, the love of being a firefighter called him back to service and he has been back with the department for eight years. Following his return he was promoted to lieutenant due to his experience and advanced certifications. He is the current vice president of the Orange County Fireman Association, and the past president of the East Texas Division of the State Fireman and Fire Marshall Association.

Fisette was assistant fire chief for two years prior to becoming the chief. He will serve a two-year term as chief. All of the officer terms are two-year terms.

When not at the fire department, his full time job for the past five years is as an analyzer technician at a local plant.

“I like doing this,” Fisette said. “It’s my way of giving back to the community.”

His wife, Tammi, shares the same passions and works as a firefighter/EMT at the Bridge City fire department.

“People have told me to get a hobby,” he said. ‘This is my hobby.”

Not all calls in Bridge City have firefighters rushing out to extinguish a blaze. About 75 percent of the approximately 112 monthly calls are for medical issues. The department covers about 90 square miles which includes outlying areas of Bridge City and Orangefield. In addition, they provide mutual aide to other departments when needed.

Fisette makes as many calls as he can — even the late night calls. Sometimes those are the hardest, but they still need to be done.  After a fire is extinguished, their job as a firefighter is not done. They still have to return to the station and put the trucks back in service for the next call and complete the run reports.

When he returns home after a late weeknight call, he still has to go to work a few hours later.

Being the chief comes with additional responsibilities. He oversees the staff of 35 volunteer firefighters, four dispatchers and two maintenance people but also 10 fire trucks and two boats. Within a few months, the department will receive a new tanker and fire engine.

Plus, to ensure the safety of the firefighters and citizens, Fisette makes sure there are three monthly training sessions in addition to the monthly business meeting. His goal is to get everybody on an advanced level.

“Just like paid people, we train,” Fisette said. “We train really hard here.”

However, he doesn’t have any plans to make any changes to the way things are currently being done. According to  Fisette, he sees no reason to change it.

Staying up to date on the latest technology helps the department be more effective on the job.

Fisette wants all firefighters to be trained and prepared before going into a burning building.

Over the years, some calls have become more challenging. An example of the needed training is extraction schools where they learn how to remove a person from a vehicle and how to avoid the air deployment cellinoids.

“The technology in fire fighting is changing all the time,” Fisette said.

Other challenges firefighters face are structure fires. Some are trailers, but they have been modified with added construction.

The Bridge City Fire Department is known for their fast response times, but Fisette, along with his staff, are ready for the challenges ahead of them.

James Fisette is the newly elected Fire Chief for the Bridge City Fire Department