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Central Texas Heroes: Bell Co. Volunteer Fire Departments respond to 652 winter storm calls

As the dust settles from the Texas winter storm, numbers have rolled in that show just how busy Bell County volunteer fire departments worked to keep Texans safe.

BELL COUNTY, Texas — As the dust settles from the Texas winter storm, numbers have rolled in that show just how busy Bell County volunteer fire departments worked to keep Central Texans safe.

For Central Bell County Fire and Rescue, the storm was chaotic and relentless. In a 10-day period, fire fighters put their lives on the line by responding to 87 calls. 

"We actually had a couple of incidents where we almost lost trucks because of the ice and sliding off the road," Central Bell County Fire and Rescue Chief Douglas McKinney said. 

The Salado Texas Volunteer Fire Department was so busy that they had fire crews working duel scenes.

"It was challenging,” Public Information Officer Bert Henry said. “There is not much we can do to prepare for that. It is not something we are accustomed to, but we took it in stride and did what we had to do to get where we needed to be."

The Bell County Fire Marshal’s Office said from February 11-20, eleven volunteer fire crews responded to 652 calls for service.

“It was constantly go, go, go,” McKinney said. “There were times where we had to split the calls. We kept one crew on one scene and sent other to another scene.”

The Salado Texas Volunteer Fire Department responded to a total of 106 calls, compared to January where they received 118 calls the entire month.

“Comparing that same time frame from February 11th 2021 to the same time frame for 2020 it was a 320 percent increase in call volume,” Henry said. “It was 24 hours a day seven days a week the entire time.”

Both Salado and Central Bell County had 8 to 12 firefighters helping during the winter storms.

"Even as tired as they were from being out in the element from hours on end and responding to the numbers of calls of they did, they just kept going and going and did phenomenal,” McKinney said.

Our local fire departments proved that they are true heroes of the storm.

"We had a chance to shine and they stepped up and did it,” Henry said. “None of us are used to that type of challenge as far as operating under those conditions, but we just took a common approach to what we needed to do and we got it done."

According to the Bell County Fire Marshal's Office, firefighters spend their entire career training on various scenarios and calls to ensure their readiness. However, they sometimes face challenges they don't expect.

Listed below are the total number of calls handled by all Bell County Volunteer Fire Departments during the winter storm. 

  • Bartlett - 29
  • Central Bell County - 87
  • Holland - 64
  • Little River - 75
  • Moffat - 22
  • Morgan's Point Resort - 58
  • Rogers - 40
  • Bell County ESD #1 (Salado) - 106
  • Sparta - 22
  • Southwest Bell County - 48
  • Troy - 101

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