By Terrica Hendrix
The Dierks Volunteer Fire Department fire chief will retire at the end of the year and the city may not have a fire department in the near future, the mayor announced at the city council meeting.
Dierks Mayor Terry Mounts announced Monday at the October city council meeting that Dierks Volunteer Fire Department Chief Mike Noel “will be stepping down as fire chief at the end of the year.” Noel – who was not present at the meeting confirmed that his retirement date is effective Dec. 31, 2018.
The mayor added that Chris Janes, assistant fire chief, “will probably step down as well” and if that happens, “we won’t have a fire department…unless we can get some people to join the fire department. The membership is just not there.”
Currently, there are 10 mem-
bers on the fire department roster. Mounts confirmed that “our homeowners insurance will probably go up” due to the Insurance Services Office Public Protection Classification rating changing. ISO ratings are important in the formulation of homeowners insurance quotes. ISO ratings are assigned from 1 – 10. Noel said that the lower ratings “has to do with how many miles you live from the fire department” and 10 is the “furthest from the fire department,” Noel said. The current ISO rating for Dierks is 6, Noel said.
Noel, who has been the fire chief for three years, said that he does not believe that the fire department will dissipate just yet. “ I don’t think the fire department will go away,” Noel continued. “If we don’t get new members and members go away, then there is a possibility of the fire department not existing. Nothing is set in stone as far as the fire department being no more. It’s not going away at the end of December just because I’m retiring.”
Noel, who has been fire fighter for 23 years total and a member of the department for 17 years. He said that his decision to retire has been a difficult one. “It’s really been a tough decision. It’s hard for me. I have some personal things going on and for the fire department, it’s probably best for me to step away. I’m still going to be around” and added that his retirement is “nothing negative. It’s just time for me to retire.”
The fire chief added that he was not sure if Janes will leave the department and said, “I cannot speak for him.”
He stated that the department needs “some younger folks to step up and be concerned about the future of the fire department…it’s not just Dierks, but across the nation.” Just because I am retiring at the end of the year does not mean that the fire department is going away,” he reiterated. “There’s still good folks left in the fire department,” Noel continued, “the ones that are left are good people.” Once his resignation is effective, he will assist the new chief in any way, he confirmed.
“I appreciate very much the support that I’ve received from the community, the city council, and my fellow fire fighters,” he stated.
He plans to spend more time with his family, including his two-year-old granddaughter, Elli Grace, and enjoy his hobbies once he retires. His wife, Malinda, “has been very supportive” as well as his children: Jennifer Noel and Spencer Noel.
Noel urged residents to become members of the fire department. For more information on becoming a member, contact Noel at 870-557-5229, Janes at 870-557-9668, or contact any fire department member.