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Texas A&M Forest Service and volunteer fire departments work together to help communities in wildfire situations

With recent wildfires across Texas, local emergency and volunteer fire departments have stayed busy.

SAN ANGELO, Texas — In the past few weeks, there has been elevated fire weather danger across the state. The Texas A&M Forest Service and West Texas volunteer fire departments are working hard to protect our communities. 

Volunteer fire departments risk their lives helping the community in emergency situations. The work they do is based on their willingness to help others in their free time, without getting something in return. 

If you live in a rural area, chances are, VFDs will be the ones responding to a fire call. 

"The process goes just like it does basically in San Angelo, you dial 9-1-1 and it goes to the San Angelo police and fire dispatch, they then dispatch out whichever volunteer fire department that covers that area and we get text messages or alerts on our radios. From there, the volunteers will report to the fire station, get whatever vehicle they need and go from there," Dove Creek Volunteer Fire Department Chief, Sontos Chavez, said. 

Chavez said one of the challenges VFDs encounter is not having enough people on stand-by during the day, since most members are working. 

“So, the biggest challenge would be just trying to find enough people to try to answer the call in the middle of the day. All of our members work and have jobs and that really makes it a tough priority in the middle of the day. If there’s something going on, trying to get people to get off work or take the time to do all the extra stuff,” Chavez said. 

The Dove Creek Volunteer Fire Department has 20 volunteers, Chavez said the department is always looking for more help. To apply, visit dovecreekvfd.org.

When fires get out of control or begin to head in that direction, VFDs contact the Texas Forest Service to help contain large fires that can threaten homes, businesses and lives.

“So, in our region, the main cause of fires right now has been roadside starts. We’re getting a lot of people parking in tall grass or their driving, pulling a trailer with the chains dragging down. We’re also getting a few mechanical starts with equipment or even welding or stuff like that,” Texas A&M Forest Service Wildland Urban Interface Coordinator, Robyn Atwood, said. 

Being prepared, in case of a wildfire in your area, is also highly important, she said.

“We want everyone to be prepared for a wildfire to come through their area, we really hope one does not come through their area, but we want everyone to be prepared so be ready, have a 'go kit' ready to go,” Atwood said.

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