Westover Fire Department marks one-year anniversary

Published 6:48 pm Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Although the Westover Fire Department has only been in operation for a year, it’s already made a huge community impact, said Mayor Mark McLaughlin.

“People are excited about having paramedics and firefighters on duty 24 hours, 7 days a week,” he said. “That’s what a city does, it helps its citizens, and it’s exciting we’ve been able to do that.”

A year ago, the fire department depended on a contract with the Cahaba Valley Fire Department to supply manpower. The department ended that contract only 18 days ago, and it now operates on its own. Many of the Westover firefighters, however, also work for Cahaba Valley, so townspeople are seeing the same personnel on calls.

“The transition has been seamless,” McLaughlin said. “That’s been the goal.”

The fire department employs approximately 18 firefighters, and at least one is always on duty. The firefighters are always ready to help community members, he said.

“If you see the firemen at the station and you need to get your blood pressure checked or if something’s wrong and you’re not feeling well, that’s what they’re there for. They want you to stop,” McLaughlin said.

Currently, the Westover City Council is working to find a fire chief. The search will go on for as long as it takes to find the perfect candidate, the mayor said.

The department currently has two captains that have taken a leadership role, which gives the fire chief search committee some time to search.

McLaughlin said the department is also committed to improving equipment and working on the site for the new fire station. He said he’d eventually like to see two men working every shift.

Also, the Westover Fire Department has aid agreements with neighboring fire departments to ensure quick service for local communities.

“It’s about getting people help as fast as you can,” McLaughlin said.

Over the past year, Westover has poured $200,000 into its fire department. However, that money’s been well spent, McLaughlin said.

“The fire department has really been a good thing. You know when you call 911, you’ve got someone there within minutes,” he said. “That’s just so incredibly great for our community. We feel like we’ve got a very good, professional product that we’re very proud of, and I mean that in the context of being able to make a difference in somebody’s life.”