How can I be a volunteer?
Can I be a volunteer for Fire and EMS?
Absolutely! When you’re on duty with Fire, you’re on duty no mater what. And the same goes for EMS duty.
What is Wilson County ESD #1?
Emergency Services Districts are political subdivisions of Texas that are entrusted with providing emergency medical and fire services to many unincorporated areas of the state. Tax payers pay ESD taxes to fund Emergency Services.
What happens when I call 911?
When you call 911 your call is routed to your service dispatcher. Wilson County maintains and operates a dispatcher. The dispatcher will collect information from you to determine your location and nature of emergency. Depending on the location and type of emergency, the Wilson County dispatcher will call or “tone out” either law enforcement, EMS, or fire service to assist you. In the case of fire services, your assigned area department will be “toned first”. If they do not respond or if additional assistance is requested or required, other departments will be toned out to assist.
The first arriving unit to reach your location should perform a “size up” which is basically a quick evaluation of what they are observing as well as what other assistance they may need. This size up is reported back to the dispatcher for emergency services situational awareness and further action as required.
How many people does it take to put out a fire?
Great question and the answer is – it depends! The required equipment and personnel is completely dependent on the situation. A small grass fire will require far less than a house fire with possible victims inside. Let’s look at a very simple example of what is required for a house fire.
The Nation Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1710 Standard for the Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations, and Special Operations to the Public by Career Fire Departments states that 14 firefighters is a reasonable number. All are expected to arrive within eight minutes of receiving an alarm 90 percent of the time.
Volunteer fire departments reference, NFPA 1720, Standard for the Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations, and Special Operations to the Public by Volunteer Fire Departments. It recommends, as a minimum of four members to be present prior to initiating an interior fire attack. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) “two-in/two-out” rule states you should have 2 firefighters outside ready to assist the 2 firefighters inside. While firefighter are inside a structure, another firefighter qualified to operate the Engine and supply water is required. Ideally another firefighter would serve in the safety observer to watch the entire scene for hazards such as building collapse. Additional personnel are required to drive and operate other vehicles supplying more water and manpower, turn on fire hydrants, etc. As you can see, the career standard is a realistic number.
NFPA 1710 serves as the benchmark to achieve.
Why should I put an address number on my property?
Members of the community should display their address simply so we can find your location quickly. Yes, we use technology and mapping software to find your address; however, poor weather and night low visibility conditions can hamper personnel in reaching your location. Sometimes homes are not located near roadways or are obscured by trees. Prominent display of your address only helps us help you.
Do you work with other departments?
Yes! Wilson County has a great volunteer community ready to grow. LVVFD trains and works with surrounding departments on a regular basis. If a department encounters a situation that requires more manpower or equipment then mutual aid agreements kick in as part of fire service working contracts in and outside of Wilson County. Recently multiple departments came together to provide aid during the Floresville Tornado in October 2015.
How many members does LVVFD have?
La Vernia Volunteer Fire Department depends on its volunteers! LVVFD currently has 45 members. Of our 45 members, there are 22 firefighters, 2 cadets in training, 12 applicants and future Explorers, and 9 Fire Corp members. Of the 22 firefighters available, 21 are trained at the Firefighter 2 level and one at the Firefighter 1. This training qualifies and equips our firefighters to make entry into a burning structure to effect fire protection and or rescue measures. Our Fire Corp members support department non-firefighting activities such as community outreach as well as running refreshment and rest areas for our firefighters during large contingencies.
What is the Public Protection Classification (PPC) and an ISO rating?
From the Texas Department of Insurance:
“The Public Protection Classification System is a national classification system used by the Insurance Services Office. The classification system is used to determine a community’s fire protection for insure rate determinations. The PPC system is used at some level nationally; however, some companies such as State Farm have elected to use their own systems based on subzones that rate close to the PPC.
The ISO classes range from 1 being the best to 10 being the worst.
As of January 1, 2016, La Vernia Volunteer Fire Department’s ISO rating is 5. Our sister department and our training partner’s (Stockdale Volunteer Fire Department) ISO rating is 4.
Homeowner insurance rates may be based on PPC (ISO ratings), claim rates, and other insurance company factors. Please investigate the conditions that apply to you. Generally, if a community’s PPC improves insurance premiums decrease; however, if the PPC deteriorates, then premiums increase.
ISO inspection reports and lists of PPC ratings are open records available in Austin. Please see the link to the Texas Department of Insurance for more information.”
Why was the new fire station built at FM 3432 and FM 775?
Known as Station 2, the facility was built to replace an existing structure at that site. The previous metal building was used to house department equipment and an apparatus. Due to the growth of the area, a new facility was required to house new equipment and to preposition emergency services equipment in the case of an emergency. The previous building was relocated to FM 539 to create Station 3. Together the station locations help reduce travel times to required equipment when it needed.
Station 2 is a modern facility allowing for three fire truck bays, maintenance room, firefighter gear room, office space, as well as living quarters upstairs for our shift volunteers. This station also gives home to the Wilson County ESD #1. Most recently the station was manned for 36 hours straight during the Floresville tornado and showed the importance of having multiple locations that provide for survivability and contingency planning. We never want to put all our eggs in one basket.
Several national fire protection studies have shown that at least four trained and certified firefighters should be on shift or available at locations ready to meet minimal response times (e.g. minutes) for every 25,000 people. Mutual aid agreements exist at the county, state, and national level to reinforce local responses as needed. As our population continues to grow and with estimates that between 15,000 to 35,000 transit through our area on any given day, the new station is needed to plan, adapt, and train for a safe future.
The average time for a 12’ x 16’ room to be completely engulfed by fire during the Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s Fire Protection Engineering department is 166 seconds. A study conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the 1970s found that occupants have approximately 17 minutes to escape a fire once smoke is detected. The study was repeated in 2004 and the survivability time dropped to only 3 minutes.
The closer the right equipment and personnel is available to you the better.
Can teenagers join LVVFD?
Yes, however not as a firefighter. National and State Child Labor Laws do not permit individuals under the age of 18 to serve in a firefighting capacity. Firefighting is dangerous. Rightfully so, minors are not allowed to be in a hazardous environment nor should anyone who has not been trained or does not have appropriate personal protection equipment.
We are in the process of developing a nationally recognized Explorer program for youth community service. The Explorer program follows the Boy Scouts of America format and is open to boys and girls. In the Explorer program, teens can learn about the fire service and assist their departments and community by promoting physical fitness and building on principles of leadership, character, and integrity.
What requirements are needed for volunteering with the Fire Department?
A clean background and eagerness to learn. We will train you and all the training you receive is credit towards a career in the fire service.
Which is the closest fire station to my house?
Please see our Fire Stations page.
How do I find the names of the firefighters who took care of my emergency?
Contact the Fire Department at 830-779-2438
How are your firefighters trained and certified?
Our firefighters are committed to protecting our community and serving is a big commitment as firefighter do not just fight fires. There are two methods under which our firefighters gain training and certification; however, both curriculums cover the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) qualification standards for basic structure fire suppression training.
One of the two methods is managed by the Texas Commission on Fire Protection and is the only way any firefighter in the state can be commissioned as a firefighter. Members following this certification path must complete basic structure fire suppression training (approximately 468 hours of training), pass a written examination, pass a skills test, complete EMT training, and pass a criminal background check.
The next method is managed by the State Firefighters’ and Fire Marshals’ Association (SFFMA). This program takes several months to complete. SFFMA certification is not the same as the TCFP certification; however, successful completion of the Firefighter II certification may qualify a member to take the state tests. EMT training is not required under the SFFMA certification process.
La Vernia Volunteer Fire Department members are either TCFP or SFFMA certified and have received advanced training in other service areas such as Engine Operator training, technical rope rescue, swift water rescue, vehicle extrication training, hazmat, wildland fire protection, emergency medical technician training, instructor, National Incident Management System, and Department of Homeland Security measures.
I pay enough taxes why should I pay more for an ESD?
Joining WCESD#1 ensures your property will be served by a dedicated, trained, qualified, and assigned fire department with the appropriate equipment. As a community we share the expense. Remember, La Vernia firefighters are volunteers – your neighbors. Tax funds pay for the maintenance of fire trucks, the purchase and serviceability of equipment, and training. Firefighting is expensive. An AED averages $1,000; individual firefighter bunker gear costs approximately $3,000; the Jaws-of-Life runs in excess of $15,000, and a used fire truck (Engine) will most likely be in excess of $100,000.
Typical ESD cost for a property owner of a $100,000 home is approximately $80 per year or less than $7 per month. In the case of La Vernia Volunteer Fire Department, its ISO rating is high enough that homeowner insurance premium discounts may be possible. Together with our training partner (Stockdale VFD) we respectively maintain the two highest ISO ratings in the county. Savings on homeowner insurance, low monthly or annual cost and the peace of mind knowing that on your worst day the best available equipment with highly trained personnel is on its way makes WCESD#1 and La Vernia Volunteer Fire Department a wise investment.
Why do firefighters break windows and cut holes in roofs when the fire is inside a structure? It seems that they are causing more damage than the fire?
Fire in a structure creates a tremendous amount of heat and smoke. In many instances, firefighters must remove this heat and smoke before they can get close enough to extinguish the fire. The reduced heat and improved visibility allow firefighters to safely and quickly rescue trapped occupants and extinguish the fire. Heat and smoke rise, so cutting a hole in the roof and breaking out windows in strategic locations allows the smoke to vent upwards, allowing cool air to enter the structure from below. We call this “ventilation”. When a hole is made in the roof, dark smoke and dangerous superheated gases escape because heat and smoke rise. This makes it much easier for the firefighters in the structure to see. It also reduces the possibilities of backdraft (an explosion of heated gases) and flashover.
Do you swap patches or shirts?
We do not currently have an established policy on this and requests are handled on a case by case basis. Please submit your request on the contact us section of the website.
I need a copy of my fire report for a recent incident.
To obtain a copy of an incident report:
1. Email the Chief
2. Call the station
3. Come by Station #1
Is La Vernia EMS and La Vernia Fire Dept the same entity?
No, La Vernia EMS and La Vernia Fire Dept are two separate entities with a working relationship. La Vernia Fire receives funding through our ESD while La Vernia EMS receives funding from the County, billing, and more importantly donations from the community.
Do you allow birthday parties at the stations?
We do have a policy for renting the station. Stop by Station #1 and chat with the Administrative personnel.
Do you have a question not listed here? Reach out.