Volunteer Fire Departments Struggle With Funding Cuts

Volunteer Fire Departments Struggle With Funding Cuts

Funding for volunteer fire departments across Texas is running out fast and the departments are in desperate need of Texoma's help.

JD Evans joined the Henrietta Volunteer Fire Department two years ago when he retired from the American Red Cross. He says becoming a volunteer is one of the most honorable things anybody could do.

"I decided that I wanted to do something to help the city and there's nothing more than you can do than to help fight the fires that we have around here," said Evans.

But lately hundreds of VFD'S across Texas have been fighting something else. They're in a battle against funding cuts that have left them with very little money to stay up and running.

Evans says, "The economy is down, the government doesn't have the money and normally we would apply for grants through the Texas Firemen Association, FEMA and other organizations and that money just has been cut down."

In 2010 the state legislature slashed the funds that are given to volunteer fire departments through grants. The funds went from $30 million a year to only $7 million. Evans says Henrietta volunteers receive help from the city, Clay County and donors but that's still not enough to pay for things like training and gear. Each gear costs $1,200.

Evans says they also have to spend several thousand dollars a year to maintain each of their six emergency vehicles. But Ella Fitzbag from Sherman, TX is trying to help out all the volunteers in the state. Next week the state's House of Representatives will vote on an amendment to reinstate the $30 million back in the fund. That's why Fitzbag has started an online petition to pressure our leaders into getting it done.

Fitzbag says, "The reason why I did an online petition is so I could reach all areas of the state so that the firefighters and people who support them can have a voice."

And Evans says donations would also help a lot.

"Without the donations, the lights would go off, the trucks would quit running. Firemen wouldn't be there when you need them," said Evans.

If you would like to sign the petition just click here: www.signon.org/sign/reinstate-funding-for-1

Tanya De Jesus, Newschannel 6