WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) Besides the multiple fires they face, other emergencies keep the area’s firefighters busy, such as medical calls and other services.
But what volunteer firefighters from the Wichita West Volunteer Fire Department have found the most taxing is the summer heat, causing a shortage of water and Gatorade necessary for keeping them hydrated in the field.
“August alone, we’ve had 15 wildland fire responses for structure fires,” Lieutenant Rick Lasty with the Wichita West Volunteer Fire Department said. “And that’s not counting the EMS runs, the medical runs, the motor vehicle accidents and all the other calls that we respond to as a first response agency with our firefighters.”
Lasky said that combined with the heat, the shortage has wreaked havoc on volunteers, leaving some without enough water or Gatorade.
“We have to keep everybody hydrated because we don’t want firefighters [to] end up getting hurt while they’re out there taking care of their communities.”
However, Lasky said, there is a silver lining. The automatic mutual aid the department receives when out on calls has significantly boosted efficiency.
Whether it’s with Wichita Falls Fire Departments or rural volunteer fire departments, all the surrounding firefighters work together.
“The fact that we can call for help from a bunch of different fire departments come together, as well as the state agencies that are assembled through the Texas Forest Service and Itiveness Group,” he said. “We’re a stone’s throw away from Archer County, from Clay, from Wilbarger, so we come together. A lot of our firefights had agencies from different counties.”
Lasky said the community support is also a blessing, and it’s what helps volunteer departments to keep going.
“We’re blessed that we live in a part of the country, a part of the state of Texas, where the community steps up for us, the citizens, and the business owners really step up,” Lasky said. “Some of the budgets that some of the volunteer firefighters have are pretty small, and the majority, I know, our department, the majority of what we raise is done through fundraisers.”
While sometimes small in scale, these fundraisers help to serve and protect the community.
Water and Gatorade donations are always needed, as well as monetary donations. To give back to the Wichita Falls Volunteer Fire Department, visit their website.