By Dan Moffett
Boynton Beach Fire Chief James Stables has been on the job for only five months, but already he’s making a difference in Briny Breezes.
That’s the conclusion of Hal Hutchins, the Ocean Ridge police chief and Briny’s marshal.
“I’ve already started to notice that the response times have been coming down,” Hutchins told the Town Council on May 27. “We’ve seen it.”
Stables, 54, explained his philosophy to the council on getting responders to Briny quickly. He said the idea isn’t to focus so much on driving faster, but rather to emphasize getting fire-rescue and firefighting personnel loaded into their vehicles more rapidly.
“A lot of times people don’t understand about emergency response,” Stables said. “In a small response zone, you can’t add a whole lot of speed and make a meaningful impact. What you can do is get to the apparatus quicker and get out of the station quicker.”
He told the council the goal is to get responders into their fire truck or ambulance 30 seconds quicker because that’s time saved in the response. “It’s a meaningful savings of time,” he said.
Boynton provides fire services for Ocean Ridge, as well as Briny.
Stables has some 35 years’ experience in fire departments. He came to Boynton from Johnson City, Tennessee, where he served as chief for 31/2 years. Before that, he was the chief in Palm Bay and Ormond Beach.
He has a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Barry University and is working on a master’s there.
In other business:
• The council gave unanimous approval to a contract and work order to replace the town’s aging water mains.
Town Manager William Thrasher said the project should cost the town about $301,000, and he hopes that Briny can pay much of the bill with federal money from the pandemic-relief American Rescue Plan. The corporation has committed to contributing $80,000.
The town was able to piggyback onto an existing Boynton Beach contract to avoid seeking bids for the work. Thrasher said the project will take months to complete and is likely to run into next year.
• The council set its first budget workshop for July 22, beginning at 3 p.m. Council members decided to return all meetings to Town Hall, beginning with the regularly scheduled session on June 24. The council has been meeting in the Briny community center since last year because of coronavirus social distancing requirements.