Public Safety Committee and FireWise Community

Public Safety Committee

The Public Safety Committee is a standing council-appointed committee. Its purpose is to help individuals, organizations and businesses be prepared for severe weather or other crises requiring swift and sure actions.

The committee was created following a severe ice storm in 2007. Roads were impassable and much of the city was without electricity. The disaster showed officials and residents the city needed better communications and planning.

In August 2008, the City Council passed Ordinance 2008-17 to establish the Emergency Management Committee, to have no more than 12 members. Its purpose was to provide a comprehensive emergency management program to reduce injury and loss of life, to protect critical infrastructure and educate citizens on how to deal with emergencies and natural disasters.

In 2015, the City Council passed Ordinance 2015-03 to designate the committee as the Public Safety Advisory Committee consisting of five voting members and two ex-officio non-voting members (chiefs of the fire and police departments), with each member serving a two-year term. The changed broadened the scope of the committee, allowing it to advise the Mayor and City Council on matters such as police and fire department staffing and capital investments related to public safety.

This committee cannot take any official, legal or binding action. Its role is to guide, educate and train the public and advise the city. The meetings are open to the public and are subject to the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.

Current committee members are: Mayor Peter Christie, Don Berke, Ron Krolikowski, Don Schmutz, Jack Fellenzer, Moe Holm and ex-officio non-voting members Chief Steve Sims and Chief Ken Farmer.

Committee Accomplishments

Emergency Notification System — After having explored a number of emergency notification systems, Bella Vista became part of the Benton County Alert System. BC Alert allows police, fire and other government officials to contact you with important information during an emergency or crisis or to avoid traffic congestion and other serious problems.

You can receive the alert three ways:

  • E-mail to your work, home or other location
  • Cell phone and pagers
  • Landline phones

For more information on the various types of alerts available, go to the BC Alert website.

Public Safety Day

The committee sponsors a yearly Public Safety Day. In odd numbered years, an open house showcases the Bella Vista Police and Fire Departments’ personnel and their services. It also provides people with additional emergency and safety information.  In even numbered years, a large-scale event is held with vendors, demonstrations, food and entertainment.

Emergency Information Card

The committee developed an emergency information card with phone numbers and other emergency information and will update as necessary.

Education

Committee members and community leaders attended seminars on emergency and disaster preparations including emergency shelter operations.

Projects under development

  • Helping the business community to be prepared for emergencies and developing plans for recovering from a disaster.
  • Updating the emergency information card.
  • Continuing to improve emergency plans and finding ways to increase public knowledge of how to be prepared when disasters happen.

FireWise Board

Bella Vista is a FireWise Community — a city working to protect itself from wildfires in our forests and natural areas.

The City Council approved an ordinance in 2011 creating a FireWise Board for Bella Vista. The same people who serve on the Public Safety Committee will also serve as the FireWise Board

With the help of Arkansas FireWise, our fire department and other local organizations are making our community safer from wildfires. They educate people about wildfires and develop projects to reduce the chances of fires breaking out in our forests and natural areas near our homes and businesses. Neighbors can learn how to work to protect their neighborhood from sparks, flames and smoke.

The Arkansas Forestry Commission sponsors a multi-agency wildfire preparedness effort called Arkansas FireWise. It is part of the National FireWise Communities USA organization.
www.ready.gov
www.firewise.org
www.redcross.org