Texas Fire Chiefs Honor Katy Fire Chief Russell Wilson

By George Slaughter

AUSTIN—Since his arrival as Katy fire chief in 2016, Russell Wilson has been a busy man.

He’s been active in the development of a second fire station that is slated to open later this year at Bell Patna Drive and Katy Mills Circle, near Katy Mills Mall. The station will be a three-bay, approximately 14,000 suare-foot structure.

He’s supervised the grant application that will help the city pay for the hiring and training of the firefighters who will staff it.

He’s also supervised the upgrading and acquisition of new equipment.

His peers around Texas have noticed. On Monday, at the Texas Association of Fire Chiefs Executive Conference in Austin, Wilson was named Fire Chief of the Year.

Mayor Chuck Brawner called Wilson with the good news Monday.

“He had no clue this was going to happen,” Brawner said at Monday night’s city council meeting at city hall.

The association is headquartered in Austin. It enables information sharing and legislative involvement while working to promote ethical and professional standards for firefighters.

Wilson was involved in reviewing and making changes to the fire station blueprint. One change ensures that the emergency vehicles will come out of the ban and onto Bell Patna Drive, which Wilson said would be safer than if they came out on Katy Mills Circle, which was the original plan.

The other change involves the configuration of the firefighters’ locker rooms. Instead of one large room, Wilson said several smaller rooms are being built so the men and women firefighters have separate areas to change clothes.

To staff the station, Wilson supervised the city’s application for a SAFER (for Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The city is using the grant, worth approximately $2.2 million, to hire and train new firefighters.

Facebook photo, courtesy Katy Fire Department

The city has also purchased new equipment, such as a Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system, which Brawner said meets National Fire Protection Association standards. Brawner said the new technology meets National Fire Protection Association standards. It enables more details, and mapping, on emergency calls received. It also improves dispatch and response time.

In the meanwhile, the fire department has memorandums of agreements with other governmental entities, such as Harris County Emergency Services District (ESD) 48, for mutual support in emergencies.

Wilson has also instituted a wellness program for firefighters, who because of the stress of their job are more susceptible to cancer, heart attacks, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).