GRAFTON—The Grafton Fire Department (GFD) is ready to put 2020 behind them, as they prepared to welcome the new year of 2021; hoping to see some sort of normalization once again and is looking to recover from the struggles that the COVID-19 pandemic placed on the department.
During the pandemic the GFD has had to limit meetings, fire training, cut back volunteers’ access to the station, limit burning permits and not participate in or hold any annual fundraisers.
The department’s Fire Chief Wayne Beall shared that he estimated the department responding to approximately 500 calls this year combining fire, EMS and any call needing assistance from the department.
Members of the GFD have voiced that this year has been quite the fire season, as Taylor County has had an abnormal amount of fires over the last several months.
One of the more prevalent fires this year was the blaze that claimed three of Main Street’s historic buildings. The inferno took hours to extinguish and required additional manpower from surrounding fire departments.
Chief Beall expressed his deepest gratitude to all other fire departments who respond to help with local fires, along with EMS, the Grafton Police Department, and State Fire Marshall’s Office.
“Everyone responds quickly and efficiently to each fire and the Grafton Fire Department is thankful for that. Everyone is a big help,” stated Chief Beall.
Talking more in depth with Chief Beall he discussed the larger amount of fires this year and how Taylor County itself has a vacant housing issue.
According to Beall, this year the city has been working on demolishing vacant homes, with an estimated 60-65 homes being demolished.
There is still a lot of work yet to be done because there are so many vacant homes, but the issue is being worked on in hopes to reduce the number of larger fires for next year.
He shared that one of the goals for Grafton Fire Department in 2021 is to have a safe year and to see some normalization return to the department and the community.
Twenty-year-old GFD firefighter Devin Mayle expressed that in the upcoming year he would like to see COVID get resolved and be able to continue his fire office training.
Mayle noted that one of his main goals at the department is to move up to a full-time employee.
He has attended over 120 calls throughout the year and says enjoys working for the Grafton Fire Department.
“Driving the trucks and helping the community is my favorite part of the job,” Mayle commented.