By Starrla Cray
WAVERLY, MN Being a member of Waverly’s fire department takes work, but there’s plenty of fun to be had in the process.
Between service calls, members build camaraderie through activities like waterball, softball tournaments, and spaghetti dinners.
The money they raise goes toward new equipment, which enables the department to become even more effective at responding to local emergencies.
In 2011, the department responded to a total of 130 calls, nine of which were fire calls. So far this year, there have been 87 calls, including five fire calls.
New members needed
“We are currently seeking new members,” Fire Chief Jason Karels said. “We could probably use another 10 to 12. We have a few guys who are contemplating retirement in the next couple years.”
In order to be considered, an applicant must be at least 19 years old and live in the Waverly fire area.
“Anyone wanting to apply can call me at (612) 490-8196, e-mail me at email@example.com, or stop at K&K Recycling in Waverly to pick up an application,” Jason noted.
Of the department’s 20 members, Ed Sherman and Tom McDonough have served the longest 24 years. Close behind them are Roger Karels, with 22 years of service; Doug Ault, with 19 years; Jason Karels, with 17 years; and John Woitalla, with 16 years.
Ben Duske has been on the department for 10 years, followed by Josh Reed (nine years), Matt Larson (eight years), Meri Ault (seven years), Keith Harris (six years), and Brian Nienaber (five years).
Firefighter Chris Weege has four years of service, while Chad Engler, Eric Nelson, Philip Karels, Scott Altringer, and Ashley Cody all joined three years ago.
The two newest members are Mike Cody and Andrew Burak, each with two years of service.
Firefighter meetings take place in the Waverly City Council chambers the first Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m.
“We also meet for training the third Tuesday of every month,” Jason added.
According to Jason, the first year or two of being a firefighter involves the most time commitment. New members take a firefighting class, as well as a medical response class.
“Later on, it’s mostly in-house training,” Jason said. “Either the training officers set up something, or an independent training program comes in.”
Training involves preparation for a variety of potential emergency situations, and is not limited to fires.
“We’ve had people from the railroad come in and teach us what would happen if the train derailed,” Jason said as an example.
At the department’s August meeting, firefighters talked about purchasing an Air Cascade System, which would be beneficial for both training and on-the-job applications.
“We hope to get that ordered in the next month or two,” Jason said.
Automated external defibrillators (AEDs), which are used to treat sudden cardiac arrest, are also useful to have on-hand during an emergency.
The fire department has two, and they are also available locally at St. Mary’s Catholic Church and at Humphrey Elementary School.
Fundraising events are one way the fire department earns money to buy needed equipment.
The 2011 spaghetti dinner, for example, raised about $3,800.
“We were able to purchase a much-needed toolbox for the fire truck,” said Jason’s wife, Liz Karels.
This year’s spaghetti dinner will take place Saturday, Oct. 27 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Waverly Fire Hall.
Tickets at the door are $10 for adults, $7 for children ages 6 to 12, and free for ages 5 and under.
In addition to dinner, the event includes children’s activities, a silent auction, and bake sale.
“We’re hoping to have a kids’ costume contest,” Liz added.
Silent auction items can be dropped off at K&K Recycling anytime. Bake sale donations can be dropped off at the fire hall the day of the event.
Other firefighter events this year included a slow-pitch softball tournament in June, and waterball during Waverly Daze in July.
In addition to Waverly’s fire department, the softball tournament featured teams from Howard Lake, Watertown, Litchfield, Long Lake, and Delano.
“We had a bunch of people complimenting the event,” Jason said.
To learn more about the Waverly Fire Department, call (612) 490-8196 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.