It hasn’t even been two months yet and Fire Chief Joe LaPlant is already feeling at home at the Sunrise Beach Fire Protection District.
It hasn’t even been two months yet and Fire Chief Joe LaPlant is already feeling at home at the Sunrise Beach Fire Protection District. Starting June 20, LaPlant was officially installed as chief after a long application process. After being whittled down to three candidates and going through an interview with the existing board, LaPlant was selected and has already taken steps to learn his new area of operation.
For the last 20 years, LaPlant has lived in Jefferson County just outside of St. Louis. He says he had been to a number of fire department conferences at the Ozarks before. He says the lake area has always had a homey feel to it.
Now, with the responsibilities of chief, LaPlant says he has shifted his focus to learning district policies and generally getting the lay of the land. With an entire new county to become familiarized with, he says he has his work cut out for him.
LaPlant says his crews have been very accommodating to him moving to the area, offering to go to dinner and to help learn the area the people the district serves.
“They told me when I arrived ‘Chief, one thing you need to remember is every road dead ends into the lake or loops back on itself to go away from the lake,’” LaPlant said.
The first call LaPlant was a part of at the lake was a boat fire, which introduced him to a number of unique lake qualities. However, LaPlant says he’s not uncomfortable with the water, as he served near the Merrimack river near St. Louis. It’s mostly just down to the specific strategies used by the departments in the area which he feels he will come to learn quickly.
One of the things LaPlant was immediately impressed with at SBFPD was the ease of obtaining new fire equipment. He says the district was just able to pay in cash for a new truck and plan to upgrade their air apparatuses within a few years. He says a personal goal of his is to fund a new fire boat to replace the current one they have at the station. Overall, he says he is impressed with the infrastructure the district has been able to build.
“You can’t ask for better facilities,” LaPlant said. “The HQ is beautiful here and the whole department is very well maintained.” LaPlant has already put a safety committee in place to do routine safety checks on equipment and vehicles in the district. He sees it as a small step to make sure the safety measurements are being checked and updated regularly.
LaPlant says that he is excited to be in such a beautiful part of Missouri and have the opportunity to serve a unique part of the state. He says that over his entire career in fire departments, he has enjoyed every position he has ever had. Starting at just 13-years-old , he says it has been a journey to get to this level and is honored to be a part of Sunrise Beach Fire Protection District.
“I enjoy the chief’s job, tactics and strategies,” LaPlant said. “It seemed like a natural fit here and I’m excited to get to work.”