Volunteer Spotlight: Wanda Andress

Name: Wanda Andress
Title: Chief
Department Name: Wicksburg Volunteer Fire Rescue Department, Inc.
Location: Newton, AL

Why are you an NVFC member?
We signed up to be able to get resources for the junior firefighter program we had just started, but then we entered the Globe Gear Giveaway. And since then we have used some of the trainings that are offered.

What is your occupation?

Why are you a volunteer firefighter, EMT, or rescue provider?
I take great pride in serving as the Chief of Wicksburg Volunteer Fire Rescue Department. I’ve served the Wicksburg community for 30 years as a firefighter and EMT. There is no greater feeling in the world to me then to know I’ve helped someone when they couldn’t help themselves. It’s not always been easy, but it’s always been worth it. I have lost family members that I couldn’t do anything for except just be with them. I’ve been part of a rescue of a special needs child from a burning house and got to return her to her parents. I believe fire and rescue is a calling, not just a job!

What year did you join the fire or emergency services?

What are your memorable moments as a firefighter or EMS provider?
In my 30 years as a firefighter my most memorable moment came April 20, 2015. At approximately 15:00 the call came in for a structure fire, smoke visible. Upon my arrival I reported we had a two story wood -frame structure, heavy black smoke visible. The mini blinds in the house were melting and the windows were black with smoke. I put in a call to the homeowner to find out if anyone was home. The homeowner informed us that his daughter Rachel was home alone. Rachel is 24 years old and is Autistic. When our first engine arrived, entry was made and Rachel was found in her bedroom. She had shut her bedroom door and placed towels at the door to keep out the smoke. Rachel was saved that day! God placed every person Rachel needed that day to make that rescue possible.

What contributions have you (and your department) made in your community?
Our department is very active in our community. Our Junior Fire Cadets have built wheelchair and stretcher ramps for some of the people in our community. We have an outstanding smoke detector giveaway program in our department. We won the Arkon Brass Spirit of Community Service Award in 2014. The prize for winning this award was 300 more free smoke detectors to be given out in our community. At Christmas we take Santa around on the truck delivering gifts to the kids and elderly in our community. We work closely with our PreK-12th grade school on all their sporting events and club sponsored activities. We have a fire prevention program in place for the school aged children and the senior citizens.

Interested in serving your community? Find volunteer fire service opportunities at www.MakeMeAFirefighter.org.