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BFD Chief Hall marks 15 years on the job

In his 15 years on the job, Ben Hall has worn many hats…and once or twice, a skirt (although he likes to call it a kilt).

School kids know him from his fire chief helmet but over the years, his closet has held a number of items reflecting his diverse interests and passion for community service, including:

• A couple of kilts, including the one he began to wear when he started taking part in runs sponsored by McGuire’s Irish Pub in Pensacola.

• Quite a few BHS Cross Country t-shirts, which he wears when helping to coach the team formed by Allyson Howell eight years ago.

• A top hat from his appearances on stage with his daughters during holiday productions at Veterans Memorial Civic Center in Bristol while performing in The Nutcracker over a two year period.

• A Santa Claus hat and beard that comes in handy while riding on top of the fire truck during Christmas parades.

• A collection of caps, do-rags and bandanas he has worn during years of participating in marathons, races and fun runs, both at home and in several other states.

• Some ties which he made use of during his tenure as Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce President a few years ago.

• A few paper party hats to make sure he’s always ready to celebrate someone’s birthday.

• A giant dog mascot head and costume which he has often worn for parades and public events as “Hot Spot the Fire Dog.”

…and that’s just the stuff we know about.

As Blountstown Fire Chief, he keeps things humming at the fire station on Angle Street, holds training sessions for his crew of 16 volunteers, makes safety presentations to area school kids, and writes grants for new equipment (including one of the firetrucks) while taking care of the  department’s three fire trucks.

He’s on call 24 hours a day to respond to fires within the city limits of Blountstown as well as assisting other county fire departments as needed.  When an emergency helicopter touches down in Calhoun County, he’s there with the fire truck to give them a visible marker from the air while providing extra light for night landings.

He also serves the city as the code enforcement officer, conducting fire inspections and working with property owners to take care of derelict properties and abandoned buildings as well as properly dispose of household debris.  He currently has  25 open cases and says, “We’re making a lot of headway and people are very willing to help.”

And yes, he responds to calls to liberate cats stuck in trees.  He describes a particularly successful rescue last month: “I walked up and said ‘cat, come down’ and he came down.”  Of course, the next time he got a similar call it didn’t go so well.  “I had to get the bucket truck,” he explains.  There’s no one way to get a cat out of a tree, he’s learned.  He’s had mixed results when trying to call them down, lure them with food (usually fish!) and has even placed mewing kittens at the base of a tree to encourage one kitty to climb down. Cats have let him know what works by ignoring him, scratching him or just waiting for the right moment he’s run out of ideas to make their way down on their own.

He is the founder and organizer of the Catfish Crawl 5K and Fun Run and uses the money raised from entry fees to send firefighters to school to be certified.  Last year, 260 people registered to run.  He spreads the word year round by wearing the Catfish Crawl t-shirt to some of the many races he takes part in.  It has become an annual event for runners throughout the panhandle.

“We’ve awarded three scholarships to fire academy,” he says. We’ve given some good young men a start on a great career!”

As an adjunct instructor at Chipola College, he conducts three to four live burns a year for students.  He takes them inside a burning structure and makes sure they known how to take care of themselves while getting the job done.

He earned his degree in Fire Science from Chipola in 2010.  He is certified as a Fire Safety Inspector,  Fire Investigator, Fire Office, Instructor 1 and Live Fire Instructor II.

He was honored at a recent Blountstown City Council meeting where his 15 years of service to the city was recognized.

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September 1st, 2017


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