State Funding Cuts Hurt Volunteer Fire Departments

KILLEEN, Texas (AP) - In a year of record drought and epic wildfires, volunteer firefighters have been essential to efforts to protect lives and property across most of Texas.

Those efforts have taken a toll on these volunteers, but so have shrinking government budgets.

Across Texas, 77 percent of the areas are served by volunteer departments. The Killeen Daily Herald reports the state cut its annual volunteer fire department grants last year from $25 million to $7 million.

Some counties offer some funding to their volunteer departments, but that's usually not enough. Chris Barron is executive director of the State Firemen's and Fire Marshals' Association of Texas. He tells the Daily Herald that 86 percent of firefighter volunteers use money from their own pockets to fuel their trucks or buy equipment.