Things are returning to normal for the Oatman Fire Department. Less than two months after the department was thrown into turmoil by the resignations of two of its governing board’s three members, the department is back on track planning for the future.
The Mohave County Board of Supervisors approved the appointments of two new board members last month. On Tuesday, board members Jim Tobin and John George Schnetter participated in their first Fire Board meeting in Oatman. Chairman Tim Brown– the only board member to remain after last year’s strife– welcomed the new board members.
Oatman Fire Chief Richard Leivas was also thankful to have a full board to work with as the department moves forward. He told the board that the politics of the past six months seems to have settled down. During the turmoil, several of the volunteer firefighters that make up the fire department quit, leaving the department in dire straits.
“Our volunteers are coming back,” Leivas said. “All we can offer them is training, but it’s a stepping stone that they’re willing to accept as they grow professionally.”
District 4 Supervisor Jean Bishop, whose district includes Oatman, also praised the department for turning things around.
“It’s been a battle,” she told the fire board. “I’m proud of where you are now.”
Bishop is hopeful the same recovery can be employed at other small fire departments in her district. She pointed to the upcoming special election for five new board members to the Lake Mohave Ranchos Fire Board in Dolan Springs and Meadview as an example of positive changes that are on the horizon.
As for the fire department in Oatman, they are concentrating on two big events that will keep them busy. The first will be at the end of April during the Laughlin River Run. Motorcyclists routinely flock to Oatman during the biker rally and it’ll be all hands on deck for the volunteers in Oatman. They’ll be assisted during the rally by their colleagues with the Golden Valley, Kingman and Mohave Valley Fire Departments.
The other big event this summer will be the 10th Annual Bullhead City River Regatta. The Oatman Fire Department, as in years past, has been providing emergency medical coverage during the event, which draws nearly 30,000 floaters down the Colorado River. The City of Bullhead City pays for the services offered by the Oatman Fire Department using the fees charged to participants.
“This is an important fund-raiser for us,” Leivas told the fire board on Tuesday. Last year, the city paid the Oatman Fire Department $4,475.