Clermont’s longest tenured volunteer-turned-employee is retiring.
After 49 years with the Clermont Fire Department, Fire Chief Carle Bishop will be honored at the start of the 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8, City Council meeting, a news release states. The public is invited to attend the presentation in Council Chambers at Clermont City Hall, 685 W. Montrose St.
“Chief Bishop has been an invaluable leader for the Clermont Fire Department during a half-century of growth and change in the city,” City Manager Darren Gray says in the release. “He has transformed our fire department into one of the most respected departments in the state. He will be greatly missed, and we wish him all the best in his well-deserved retirement.”
The chief’s most notable accomplishments include growing an all-volunteer department into a career agency of about 90 employees, achieving international accreditation and lowering the ISO Public Protection Class rating three times, to Class 2.
“I’m proud to have been a part of it all,” Carle says. “There’s been a lot of growth with personnel and within the community. I’m pleased with the Clermont Fire Department’s continued professionalism and all that we’ve accomplished together.”
The crown jewel of his achievements came in 2018, when the Commission on Fire Accreditation International awarded accreditation to the department, one of only 179 civilian agencies in the world to hold this designation and the first department in Lake County to do so. Accreditation required months of intense examination in 10 categories and numerous focus groups.
“It’s the gold standard for departments,” Carle says. “There’s nothing else you can get that will set you apart from other departments like that. I thought, if the city is going to be the ‘Choice of Champions,’ then the fire department should be champions.”
Clermont’s rare ISO Class 2 rating is achieved only by about 2 percent of all U.S. departments evaluated, the release states. The nationally recognized standard is based on extensive criteria and determines insurance premiums for homeowners and businesses.
In 2001, Clermont became one of the first fire departments in Lake County to provide advanced life support medical services. It also is one of a few U.S. agencies the chief knows of that require a physical fitness test for continued employment.
When Carle started on the job 49 years ago, only one first-responder was sent to a call, firetrucks didn’t have roofs, apparatuses weren’t air-conditioned, the ambulance took just one patient at a time and there were no computers, global positioning systems or automatic vehicle locators.
The Clermont Fire Department started with all volunteers in 1923, seven years after the city was incorporated. Carle joined in 1970 and became chief in 1990, and the department became a paid career department in 1999.
“I hope I will be remembered as being fair and consistent in my dealings with others,” Carle says. “Every day, I tried to do what seemed right.”
Carle has deep roots in Clermont. The fourth-generation Clermont resident’s great-grandfathers settled in Clermont in 1885 along with the Coopers, for whom Cooper Memorial Library is named, the release states. His late father, Clarence Bishop, served as Clermont’s assistant fire chief in the 1960s and ’70s, as well as on the Clermont City Council, and Bishop Field is named for him.
Carle plans to devote his retirement years to his wife of 45 years, Wendy, whom he credits for making their home his “refuge” between shifts in a rewarding but taxing job.
“I hope I have created something that will continue to serve the city and the residents far into the future,” he says. “Everybody has their own way of helping people. This was mine.”