With revenues from the five-eighths cent city sales tax approved by voters in a February 2011 referendum, the Pine Bluff Fire and Emergency Services Department will have the resources to upgrade services and equipment, Fire Chief Shawn Howell told the West Pine Bluff Rotary Club Thursday.

With revenues from the five-eighths cent city sales tax approved by voters in a February 2011 referendum, the Pine Bluff Fire and Emergency Services Department will have the resources to upgrade services and equipment, Fire Chief Shawn Howell told the West Pine Bluff Rotary Club Thursday.

The department will be able to purchase three new fire trucks, remodel two existing sub-stations and relocate the station at 3000 Ash St. with a new facility that will meet changing needs, Howell added.

In response to a question, the chief said greater assets may allow the department to improve its Insurance Services Office Class 3 fire protecting rating to a Class 2 status. “We are on the right track,” he added.

The ISO rating depends on a number of factors, he explained, including equipment, trained personnel, water supply, hydrants (the more modern type are rated higher), facilities and dispatch services.

The department’s four divisions — administrative, operations, fire prevention and training — include 102 uniformed public safety personnel and two office support staff, he said, assigned to seven stations and the administrative office. The facilities also include a training academy and fleet maintenance shop.

Emergency services include:

• Fire suppression or fighting fires;

• Emergency medical services for basic life support that does not transport injured or sick;

• Search and rescue that includes water rescue and freeing individuals trapped in vehicles involved in accidents; and

• A hazardous materials team of 20 members with the highest training certification that responds to chemical spills and leaks and fuel leaking from accidents.

Non-emergency services include providing and installing donated smoke alarms, free home hazard surveys, free blood pressure screenings at all fire stations and free fire prevention classes for schools and organizations.

Howell said the department began training personnel for emergency medical response in 2000.

He estimated that 50 percent of the department’s firefighters are certified as emergency medical technicians and another 10 percent are undergoing EMT training.