This city in southern Walker County will soon have more room to house an additional shift of first responders.
The new two-story addition is under construction behind the existing fire station and will include more living space for the firefighters and emergency medical service technicians the county plans to hire to respond around the clock to an increasing number of emergency calls.
The new facility also will have garage space for four emergency vehicles — possibly including an ambulance — and will feature a conference room and kitchen. Pct. 4 road crews helped with the dirt work and site preparation of the expansion, which county officials hope will be completed by late spring.
Getting an emergency crew stationed full-time in New Waverly has been a priority for recently re-elected Walker County Pct. 4 Commissioner Tim Paulsel, who said it’s been 15 years since an extra crew of first responders has been added to New Waverly. Meanwhile, he said, the number of emergency calls in the area has risen dramatically.
There’s a need for it because of the number of calls there. The only way to provide a faster response time for rural areas like New Waverly is to have someone there 24/7. That’s critical in any type of emergency situation,” Paulsel said. “It’s going to be a priority in this budget year.”
When New Waverly began providing fire protection, firefighters mainly responded to grass fires and rural fires, said firefighter Jimmy Williams. Now, Williams said, 60 to 70 percent of the calls received are for emergency medical services. Firefighters here are also trained as emergency medical technicians to serve double duty in the rural areas surrounding New Waverly.
“We respond first out, and our ambulance is currently coming from Huntsville,” Williams said. “We have a significant delay in getting ambulances to this area. One of the main goals for this station is to house an ambulance here and cut that response time from 20 minutes or more to the same response time we (firefighters) have here, which is just over seven minutes.”
A fire pole to be installed in the new facility will allow quick access from the top floor to the bottom.
“We didn’t have room here to be a one-story station,” Williams said. “With the two-story design, it was about speed and being able to respond quickly. It shortens the response time.”
Williams said with only minor rainfall and good weather, construction has progressed quickly.
“The project is coming along like we expected and it’s all framed up,” he said. “I think we’re looking at sometime this spring and we’ll be moving in. We don’t have an estimated date, but we’re looking at May, depending on the weather.”
Williams said New Waverly is always on the lookout for more volunteers. For more information, call the New Waverly Fire Department at (936) 344-6911.