WVFD making upgrades to keep community safe

by Cristin Parker cristin@thecherokeean.com

Wells Volunteer Fire Department is stepping up in response to the recent severe weather the city of Alto and much of the rest of Cherokee County has experienced in the last several weeks.

Wells Fire Chief and Councilman Robert Kalka addressed the city council on behalf of the fire department during a recent council meeting to report plans to strengthen the department’s ability to effectively respond to and handle future emergency situations.

“Our members spent quite a bit of time helping aid the city of Alto after the (April 13) tornadoes hit,” Kalka said. “Because of that situation in Alto, we realized there’s no adequate place in Wells to establish an emergency command station here, especially in the event of a power outage.”

Kalka said the department is in the process of pricing a natural gas powered generator to be installed at the fire station.

“We’d like to go ahead and make that purchase to be able to keep power to the station, in the event of an emergency,” Kalka said.

When asked who would pay for the equipment and installation, Kalka said the department would.

“Go for it,” Councilwoman Billie Petty said. “I think it’s a wonderful idea.”

Kalka said the department has also recently contracted with Nalcom to get the city’s emergency siren repaired.

“It’ll go off at noon just like it used to, and we’re adding an app to download onto our smart phones that would allow the fire and police departments to set off the siren with our phones, as needed.

“That’ll definitely help make sure we get alarms out as quickly as possible as bad weather happens.”

The WVFD has been upgrading its fire station in recent years, adding three more truck bays and remodeling the inside. In an earlier interview, Kalka said he’s grateful for the support the WVFD receives every year from the city, the county and the community.

“It’s so nice to know they’re taking care of us, the same way we’re taking care of them,” Kalka said.

“That’s also the reason the WVFD continues to support local organizations like the Wells Food Pantry and the Wells Development Corporation; and recently started an annual scholarship fund for WHS seniors.
“We want to support our community, to let them know their support doesn’t go unnoticed,” Kalka said.

The Wells Volunteer Fire Department currently has 10 dedicated members and five auxiliary members. Anyone interested in becoming a Wells volunteer firefighter can attend a department business meeting, held the first Monday of every month. Anyone who’d like to donate to the department may contact Kalka or any other member of the department.

“Donation don’t have to be monetary either,” Kalka said. “We’re always needing bottled water and other drinks, snacks, that kind of thing, to carry with us out on a scene. It gets difficult sometimes, especially in the summertime, to keep our people hydrated and energized while they do what they gotta do.”

Checks, made out to the Wells Volunteer Fire Department, can be mailed to the department at PO Box 116, Wells, TX 75976.