For WRES, it was a December of progress compared to 2020. We were actually able to run the Santa Train on the mountain, and we hope your kids got the chance to meet Santa on the firetruck and receive some candy. As volunteers who normally are in a truck with lights flashing because someone is in need of help, it is a nice change of pace for us to see children come bounding out of houses, excited to give Santa a hug.
We were not able to host our annual holiday banquet, but our board of directors still funded a modified celebration. We were able to gather at Station One and enjoy a delicious catered meal and some time off. This is also the time of year we give our members some recognition and give out our annual awards. Patrick Halstead received the Rock of Gibraltar award for always being ready and dependable. The Dr. Dodds award for outstanding medical response went to Robert Clark, and Lt. Jody Clift won the Leadership award for outstanding leadership during the past year. A special Chief’s Award went to Jaykob Hawkins and Derek Tallent for outstanding service to the organization. But the most prestigious award this year was given to Patrick Stoker, as he was voted the Volunteer of the Year by his peers - a worthy recognition.
For those of you who have sent in your donation from our mailed request - a hearty thank you! So, where does your money go? First and foremost, know that the largest expense we have every year is for insurance! Yes, liability insurance, disability insurance for our volunteer members and vehicle and facility insurance. You can imagine that our liability insurance is pretty hefty given the nature of what we do here at WRES. Equipment, maintenance and training are the balance where your donations go - just our daily operations. Did you know that to just outfit a volunteer with turnout gear, boots, gloves, helmet and breathing apparatus can cost over $6,500 per person! That is just the bunker gear. We also have to have hoses, axes and other tools for our trucks, as well as expendable safety supplies like gloves and masks to protect our members on medical calls. And, just like any other facility, we have water bills, electric bills and phone bills to pay every month. It all adds up and we appreciate the support!
As we are now in the open burning and winter season, our biggest risk of calls right now are for grass fires and chimney fires. If you are burning brush or plan to later in the spring, please obtain a burn permit and adhere to the rules for open burning. It is also a good idea to give us a call and leave us a message that you will be burning so we don’t show up with a truck and a crew when someone driving down the street calls to report a fire. Yes, it does happen. Also, be sure your space heaters are not placed near your drapery or furniture, as this turns out to be a common cause of house fires this time of year. We want you to be warm and comfortable in your home, but we also want you to be mindful so that you stay safe.
This is also the time of year that we ask for volunteers to come and join our organization. Know that as an operating emergency service, we need all types of help - not just with fighting fires. We have reports and documentation to keep track of, and we do a lot of our own maintenance on trucks and equipment to keep everything in good working order. We have IT needs for cloud computing and internal servers to monitor our equipment. Yes, we always need more firefighters and medical response volunteers, but we also have other volunteer opportunities if you would like to help.
You can always contact us at our Station One phone number at (423) 886-5974 and leave a message, and you can direct message us on our Facebook page at Waldens Ridge Emergency Service. However, if you have an emergency - or even think you may need some help - do not hesitate to call 911 for immediate assistance and the fastest response.