By Caroline Wigmore
WAVERLY, MN “We could use a few good men or women,” Waverly Fire Chief Roger Karels said, explaining that the number of volunteer firefighters in Waverly has slowly dropped in recent years, due to the retirement of about half its members.
“We’re not getting a lot of new people coming in (to volunteer),” Karels said.
The department is still able to carry out its duties with its 15 members, but Karels believes that the department would be better off if it had about 30 members.
Volunteer firefighters may see a lot of action in the course of a month, according to Karels, from putting out grass and house fires, directing traffic at the scene of a car accident, stabilizing injured persons, or setting up a landing zone for emergency helicopters.
After Karels’ 18 years of experience as a firefighter, his reason for staying with the department is simple.
“I like helping people who need help,” he said.
Karels’ uncle, Mark Karels, has a 23-year history of service on the fire department, 15 of which were spent serving as the fire chief.
Mark enjoys the feeling that he has helped the community both during fire emergencies, and through bringing elementary school classes into the fire hall for tours and to teach them about fire safety.
Mark said that one of his favorite parts of the job is getting the little thank you notes that kids write to the department after their tours.
A volunteer must not have a criminal record, must be 18 years old or older, and live within five minutes of the fire hall, which is connected to the city hall at 502 Atlantic Avenue.
How to volunteer
Waverly Fire Chief Roger Karels encourages anyone who is interested in learning more about volunteering for the fire department to drop into K & K Recycling, 518 Pacific Ave., Waverly, and ask for him, or to call him at (763) 658-4403.