Perla Fire Department is once again operational, thanks to the bravery, dedication and hard work of a small handful of dedicated volunteers.

Perla FD Fire Chief, Jimmy Evans, is making it happen with the help of Assistant Fire Chiefs David King and Chad Pilcher, and about a dozen other gracious volunteers.

“Our department is 100 percent volunteer,” King said, who actually lives in Grant County but is lending a hand in Perla because he is a longtime volunteer who knows better than most how great the need really is.

The Perla Fire Department was a vital asset to the community, but residents in the area have had to do without the station’s essential service for the last few years.

Perla FD served the people in its district and surrounding areas through emergency response actions of all varieties, from its first opening back in 1962 until bureaucratic and economic issues caused local officials to stop offering the service a few years ago.

That weight then fell to other fire departments in the area, such as stations in Glen Rose and Rockport, but seeing as they all work quite well and selflessly together to respond to every emergency call put before them, the lack of an established emergency response team at the Perla station may have gone unnoticed.

However, fire departments all around the county — state, and country, for that matter—can attest to the fact that there is a shortage of volunteers. The never-ending need for more brave souls willing to answer the call, plus an alarming 35 percent increase in 911 call volume in Hot Spring County over the last year, makes the demand for volunteer firefighters that much more urgent.

King serves with several other people who are coming to Perla to pitch in, both by volunteering and by providing essential equipment and auxiliary services.

“We’ve got guys that came in from Grant County and Saline County,” King said. “I came on originally to just help on the administrative side, do the paperwork and all…I’m actually on another volunteer department in Grant County.”

Evans, King and Pilcher have about 55 years of firefighting experience between them. Their expertise has proven invaluable, as they and the other volunteers have undertaken the daunting task of resurrecting the Perla station.

“The department was completely boarded up, none of the trucks were running, the equipment had been scuttled off. But we had departments from all over the state, and even some from out of state have even helped donate gear and equipment,” he said.

When asked how the idea to get the Perla station up and running again came to fruition, King said, “Our chief was fire chief here about 15 years ago, and when he heard that it was closed down, he reached out to the mayor, and the Mayor said he was needing the help and all, so Chief came back and reopened it.”

King added, “They had a really good relationship back then, and it was just time. It needed the help, and [Evans] was wiling to do it.”

Read the full story in Thursday's Feb. 9 newspaper edition.

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