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Eagle Ford: Need for LV fire code becomes apparent
Gary Williams ( from left), Casey Stewart, and Chief Jason Scheel of the La Vernia Volunteer Fire Department give an update of the department's ongoing pre- planning process during an April 11 meeting of the Wilson County Emergency Services District No. 1 board of commissioners.
LA VERNIA -- As members of the La Vernia Volunteer Fire Department continue to tour area businesses as part of their pre-planning process, the need is becoming increasingly apparent that a local fire code is needed. At the April 11 meeting of the Wilson County Emergency Services District (ESD) No. 1 board of commissioners, both organizations pledged to begin tackling this topic at the ESD’s May 9 meeting.
The purpose of the ongoing pre-planning process is to allow the fire department to gain familiarity with the area’s public and commercial buildings, so that they might be better prepared in the event of a structure fire. Firefighter Gary Williams, who volunteers in La Vernia and works as a paid firefighter in Cibolo, has visited La Vernia’s businesses. Among the items of concern he has observed is automobile repair shops storing various chemicals together and out in the open -- as opposed to within a fire-retardant metal cabinet -- and some buildings that lack emergency exits in addition to their primary points of entry and egress.
In addition, Williams said one fast-food restaurant they visited had its emergency exit blocked, and that same restaurant had paper goods stored in front of its electrical circuit-breaker box.
Other items Williams said firefighters observed were public buildings that did not possess exterior electrical shut-offs or fire sprinkler systems throughout.
“We have no actual fire code in this area,” said Chief Jason Scheel of the La Vernia Volunteer Fire Department. “It’s something we really need to look at. David Rice in Stockdale is looking at it now [for their area].”
“Man, that’s important!” said ESD board member Bill Mercado. “That’s a big accident waiting to happen.”Also during the meeting, the board voted unanimously to approve changes to the fire department’s incentive program. The department’s president, Casey Stewart, asked that the ESD approve a second option for granting stipends to volunteer firefighters. The first option requires firefighters to attend 30 percent of the calls while spending a minimum of 30 hours at the station in a one-month period. A second option calls for 10 percent of the calls and 48 hours per month. Both also require a minimum of four hours of approved training per month.
Stipend amounts vary between $20 and $70 per month, based upon a firefighter’s position and level of training.
Wilson County Emergency Services District (ESD) No. 1 board of commissioners meeting, April 11
In attendance: ESD board members Roberta Ensor, Terry Post, and Bill Mercado; fire Chief Jason Scheel, President Casey Stewart, Joy Scheel, and Gary Williams of the La Vernia Volunteer Fire Department; and Assistant Chief Mike Abbott of the Sutherland Springs Volunteer Fire Department.
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