WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - Fire Chief John Strenski started at Bowman’s station in 2010 with six members. Now there are 28 and counting. With that kind of growth comes the need for truck updates and new equipment, all things that require large amounts of money.
“For us, our bunker gear costs about $1500-1600/set. So that’s pretty pricey,” said Strenski.
Add a new pumps or tires for their trucks, or new communication equipment, and the costs can start to climb.
That’s where the Wichita Falls Area Community Foundation’s Volunteer Fire Department fund steps in.
“We’re helping not just one department but whole regions through this fund,” said Leslie Schaffner, the president of the Wichita Falls Area Community Foundation.
The foundation has been giving money to departments since 2006. This year alone has given over $120,000.
“There are a lot of volunteers who give their time, risk their safety, walk away from their jobs for a period of time so they can protect the lives and properties of others,” said Schaffner.
For Bowman VFD the fund has recently allowed them to purchase new sets of bunker gear, which Strenski says will last a firefighter throughout their career.
“We have gained a lot members in the past few months so we’ve literally run out of gear,” said Strenski. “To be able to hand that to us and say here’s money for PPE, we can’t even measure how efficient and how cost-effective that is for us.”
The VFD Fund also provides matching funds for Texas Forest Service grants. For bigger purchases/needs, Strenski said those matching funds lift a huge weight off of his shoulders.