Saginaw Fire Department continues to grow, answer calls for community

Published 11:29 am Friday, August 12, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By EMILY REED | Special to the Reporter

ALABASTER – Since the department formed in 1983, the Saginaw Fire Department has seen a growth that helps continue to serve the community.

“Beginning as a small volunteer department, we have now grown to encompass more emergency response capabilities,” Debra Payne said. “We continue to gain more volunteers ready to serve the community and continue to train for whatever the call may be.”

Saginaw Fire currently has 30 volunteers and covers 30 square miles from Shelby County 31 ending at the Alabaster Promenade and Scotland Drive, down Shelby County 26, starting at U.S. 31 and ending at Jones Drive.

The department also covers Shelby County 331 just past Retreat Lane where Pelham coverage begins.

Payne said the department realizes that volunteering at the fire department can often be used as a stepping stone to help individuals begin a career in firefighting.

“We have had at least nine volunteers who began at Saginaw to create a career as firefighters at departments such as Center Point, Alabaster, Alexander City, Homewood and more,” Payne said. “For those individuals that do not have an interest in a firefighting career, we spark their interest in serving the community by keeping them engaged in community events, disaster response and other emergency response. By being a volunteer firefighter here at Saginaw, they have the ability to positively impact people’s lives during emergencies, as well as day-to-day.”

Currently, the department runs an average of 25-30 calls a month.

Volunteers who decided to train with the department are trained for an “all hazards” approach to emergency response.

Volunteers at Saginaw obtain training in emergency medical services, vehicular extrication, wildland/brush fire response, structure and vehicle fire suppression, community risk reduction, search and rescue operations and more.

“A certified volunteer firefighter must complete a state minimum of 160 hours of training,” Payne said. “That is just the beginning for most. Many volunteers continue to train and enhance their skills long after the initial 160-hour course.”

Community support is vital to the continuation of the Saginaw Fire Department.

“We are 100 percent volunteer and receive very little funding from the county, state or federal levels,” Payne said. “It is the community’s support that allows us to continue to respond to emergencies when we are needed.”

A current challenge the department faces is the growth throughout its coverage area.

“While it may be a challenge, we are continuing to support the community even with the increased growth,” Payne said. “A goal of the fire department is to continue to gain volunteers and continue training. We hope to have everyone EMT certified. Another goal for us as a department is to implement a plan to have staffing 24/7. This would greatly reduce the amount of time individuals are waiting for responders to arrive at an emergency.”

Traditionally, volunteers respond to the station, then to the scene, when a call comes in.

“Staffing at the station would have personnel ready and responding to the scene within two minutes,” Payne said. “We also are exploring a specialty for the department. Many departments specialize in an area such as hazardous materials, technical rescue, industrial rescue, etc. We look forward to making a debut of a specialized response capability soon.”