City Fire Marshal Bobby Carpenter is the right man for the job.
Carpenter, who already wears various hats in his work with city and county governments, was appointed director of the Big Sandy Chapter of the Red Cross last month.
The fire marshal already serves as the code enforcement officer, floodplain manager, building inspector, arson investigator, electrical inspector and part-time pastor of the Lancer Baptist Church.
Carpenter's extensive training and experience in these positions made his appointment a sure fit, Red Cross board chairman Denny Dorton said, noting that Carpenter was a "top scorer" over several other applicants proposed for the position. Dorton said Carpenter's training and fundraising experience would benefit the Big Sandy Red Cross Chapter.
Carpenter stepped into the position on a part-time basis last month, and began working as the full-time director on June 1.
He is currently working out of his city hall office and the Homeland Security office in Prestonsburg, but he will later move into the Red Cross headquarters at the Homeland Security office.
The fiscal court is renovating the emergency operations center at that office, where the Red Cross, 911 administration and emergency management services are located. The center is equipped with a generator in case of electrical failure, HAM radios, and other pieces of sophisticated equipment like the ZETRON, that allows continuous contact with area law enforcement agencies during emergency situations.
Carpenter said his expertise would "bridge a network" for Red Cross volunteers. He has big plans for the Red Cross chapter.
"I plan to completely rebuild the local American Red Cross to where it's self supporting and capable of meeting all of the needs of the five-county area that it serves, as well as our three custodial counties [Knott, Leslie and Perry]," Carpenter said.
Carpenter's goal is to triple first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and lifeguard instruction given by the Red Cross. The chapter is also working on developing a network of "shelters in place" to house people during emergencies. Ivel residents stayed in hotels after the gas line explosion last year, Carpenter said, because there is currently no predefined shelter available.
"The Red Cross, for whatever reason in the past, has functioned independently," Carpenter said. "My goal and the mission of the board of directors is to see the Red Cross and all agencies involved in disaster relief work together and become one voice. The Red Cross can't take care of all the needs during a disaster, but all of these agencies working together can do it."
Carpenter's typical day begins at 5 a.m. and extends well into the evenings, when he attends various meetings. "It's long hours and hard work," he said, "but possible only because of the support of all the agencies and entities involved."
The city and county combined to give Carpenter a joint position as code enforcement officer this year. The move came after the city and county governments realized that flood victims, even with insurance, were eligible for $30,000 ICC payment to raise their homes above flood level if they lost at least 50 percent of the market value of their home in flood damages last year. The city "loaned" Carpenter to the county for inspection services of these homes last year. Of 75 homes that he inspected, 30 were eligible to be raised under this program. Many residents didn't even know funds were available to them, Carpenter said.
Carpenter is the Eastern Kentucky representative for the Association of Mitigation Matters, a floodplain management prevention team founded by him and Lon May. Carpenter attended a conference on May 10, 11 and 12 and received floodplain management certification from the Association of State Floodplain Managers. May presented him the certificate this week.
Carpenter is one of only 17 floodplain managers in the state and 2,000 across the U.S.
His certification makes flood insurance cheaper for Prestonsburg residents because the city's community preparedness rating, assigned after an evaluation by FEMA, dropped. The city's rating, which dropped from 8 to 7 after Carpenter's certification, determines the discount residents get on flood insurance.
The city is providing Carpenter's vehicle. The county will provide his fuel.
"He's got a full plate, but he's doing good," May said.
Dorton would not disclose information regarding the dismissal of former Red Cross chapter director, Peggy Back.