Bluewater Village Fire District #11
|Chief Preston Neff
|Bluewater Fire Department
Fire Chief’s Biography
Preston Neff is a 7-year veteran with the fire service and is currently the Chief of the Bluewater Village Fire Department. He has been holding the Chief’s position for 5 years. Prior to being voted in as chief, Preston was a firefighter and then promoted to Captain, holding Chief, Secretary and Training Officer responsibilities. During this time, Preston got the department 5 new sets of bunker gear, because the 2 sets that they had dated back to the early 80’s. In the meantime, he was putting specs together for a new apparatus that would replace the 1999 Engine that they were currently operating that would not meet the pump requirements. This Apparatus was delivered in December of 2012.
At the age of 26, he was voted in as Chief and knew that he was going to face many struggles with endless hours. The department had been neglected for a long period of time. They did not possess any handheld radios and all firefighters were notified of calls by the phone tree method. Most of the equipment that they were using was inoperable, and none of the members were adequately trained to be doing emergency care, or fire suppression. Slowly, Chief Neff made headway with the upgrading of equipment and was able to purchase another 5 sets of bunker gear and handheld radios. As the department was seen more in the community, new members were starting to come around.Chief Neff was contacted by the ISO auditor that stated that they needed to come into the department to perform and audit for funding purposes. The audit was scheduled for April 2014. Prior to the audit, the department's rating was a class 9, which is the second lowest rating on the scale. Approximately 6 months after going through the audit, Chief received the news back from the auditor that the department had scored a class 6 rating, which is the highest rating out of the volunteer departments in Cibola County.
Chief Neff currently staffs 16 volunteers on his roster, which over half of them are certified Fire I firefighters, Wildland type II firefighters and 5 of them are trained in the EMS field. Chief Neff is Internationally Certified in Fire I, Fire II, Hazmat, Vehicle Extrication, Emergency Vehicle Driving, Fire Inspector and Fire Service Instructor. He is Nationally trained as a type II Wildland firefighter and holds various certifications in the National Incident Management System/ Emergency Management Institute, and through the National Fire Academy, I.E. Leadership I, II, and III. He is also a certified First Responder and is State Ambassador for the International Society of Fire Service Instructors
Chief Neff is a member of the following:
- International Fire Chiefs Association
- Southwest Chief’s Association
- International Society of Fire Service Instructors
- Cibola County Fire Chief’s Association
- Fire Department Safety Officer Association
- Congressional Fire Service Institute
- Member and Supporter of the Firefighters Behavior Health Alliance
His Mission Statement: Dedicated to being the best community-focused fire and rescue department that meets the ever-changing needs of our community while ensuring a safe and secure environment for all through Honor, Integrity and Pride.
The Up-Bringing of the Bluewater Village Fire and Emergency Service District
Bluewater Village Volunteer Fire Department was established in 1952 as District 1, Valencia County. We are a rural fire district within the Village of Bluewater New Mexico, Cibola County, which has never been incorporated. Our establishment was deemed necessary by the community after the loss of a little girl in a house fire. The First Bluewater Village Fire Chief was E.C. Young. The equipment that they started the department with was a 1929 Chevrolet Fire Truck with fire pump, 300 Gallon water tank, lights and water connection, 300 Ft. of 2½ Fire hose, 200 Ft. 1½ Fire hose, 2 lengths of suction hose, a 2½“ fire nozzle, a 1½“ fog nozzle, a 2½ x 1½ x 1½ wye, 2 spanner wrenches, 2 Kimsul Fire Extinguishers with 1 CO2 refill, 1 hook, 1 crowbar, 1 extension ladder, and a lantern.
In 1954 Lee Hassel Became Chief and served in that position for over 10 years. During this time frame, there were approximately 30 homes that were scattered over the area of 1-mile-long by ½ mile wide. On the outlying areas, an additional 75-100 families lived in trailer houses. Our community at the time only had 1 stand pipe that the firefighters coupled to a water main. This required them to leave the scene to fill the fire truck and then return to the fire until it was extinguished. The Village knew that they were not adequately equipped to offer sufficient fire protection to the homes in the fire district and badly needed fire plugs. The Administration of the Department corresponded with the City of Albuquerque to purchase 20 of their out of service plugs for $200.00, with the impression that they were capable of being rebuilt for use. Upon receiving the surplus fire plugs, it was determined that some of them were not capable of being rebuilt and used. As quoted in a letter to the City, “The Bluewater Village Fire Department is a small organization, all just working men. We will pay for the usable fire hydrants out of our own pockets, but we are requesting your consideration in allowing us to return the unusable fire plugs”. On January 7th, 1959 Bluewater Volunteer Fire Department sent a letter to the State Fire Marshal’s office requesting to use fire funds for the purchase of the fire plugs to be installed into the village to provide more protection. On January 16, 1959, the membership received a letter stating the purchase of fire hydrants utilizing State Fire Funds in not normally approved. However, they gave us a chance to explain the necessity of the hydrants and valid justification of why we must use our fire funds for the purchase. It was then explained that we are an unincorporated Village and if the purchase is not approved, we would be paying for the hydrants out of our pockets. The purchase was justified and we were approved.
Since we didn’t have an actual fire station at this time, our truck was housed in an old shed behind Ronald Bowlin’s residence that was being torn down. Assistant Chief Neilson decided that the truck would be moved and housed in his barn. The school board had deeded the old Bluewater Elementary School property to the fire department to construct a Fire station. Construction began March 18th, 1963. The station was a 2 bay, cinderblock building, which is still the fire station that we are currently using.
Meetings are held every Monday from 6 pm to 9 pm
1st Monday is a Business Mtg
2nd Monday is Fire Training
3rd Monday is EMS Training
4th Monday is Fire Training
Drills are held once a Month
1st Saturday of every month from 8 am to 5 pm