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Tyler County Booster - Local News
Stories Added February 2011
Copyright 2011 - Polk Coun
ty Publishing Company

Volunteer F. D. Notes...

Tyler County Booster

By Rowland Priddy

Since the last column, Tyler County firefighters had two structure fires in Tyler County. The first one, was on Jan 28th, the structure fire was east of Woodville, the home and content were a total loss. The Woodville and Ivanhoe VFDs responded to the fire and no injuries were reported. The second fire was on the morning of Feb 2nd, in Ivanhoe. The fire started in the chimney and spread to the attic. The home had significant damage, but the fire was contained to the attic, roof and fireplace and resulted in little content damage. The prompt response by the Ivanhoe, Woodville and Warren VFD’s saved the house from being a total loss. No injuries occurred, but with the temperature was around 18 degrees and it was cold for us southern firefighter. Everyone wondered how the firefighters up north fight a fire in such cold weather. All the county departments had some calls, but the rain has helped hold down the outside fires. Have you ever wondered how much it cost to run a volunteer fire department? Unfortunately, it is very expensive. For example, to suit a firefighter out in a bunker suit, the boots, helmet, and gloves can cost $1600 or even more. Then, each firefighter also has a set of wildland gear that will cost around $300. He will also have a radio, a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), tools and other equipment used at a fire. So, you can see just outfitting a firefighter is expensive, and all of the this equipment needs replacing after a certain period. Then, we get into the cost of the trucks, a new brush truck with all the equipment needed will run around $100,000.00. The bigger trucks such as the fire engine are very expensive, that why many of the small departments buy used fire engines. As you can see, equipping a fire department is very expensive. The next question: How do small departments afford these expenses? Several different methods are used. Tax dollars, donations and grants, all these methods go into funding fire departments. The first method is though the tax dollar. The county has eight Emergency Service Districts (ESD) and one city fire department. The Emergency Services Districts (ESD) are political subdivisions of Texas that are entrusted with providing fire services to many unincorporated areas of the state. Each ESD has five members and the county commissioners appointed the members to the board on a two-year rotating term. The ESD is where the tax money goes so they must operate under certain state laws. They then contract with the individual fire departments to provide fire protection for their district. The ESD’s in this county collect from $.03 to $.10 per $100 home value. If your home is appraised at $100,000 and your district has the $.03 per $100, you pay $30 a year; if your district has the $.10 tax, you will pay $100 a year. The amount received is not much for the cost of maintaining a fire department. If you are interested in attending an ESD meeting, they are public meetings and you may attend. Woodville city taxes help fund the Woodville VFD. The next method is donations; two of the county fire departments have no tax moneys and depend on donations to operate. All the fire departments depend a lot on donations. The departments have Bar B Q sells, sell food at different events and they take individual donations. The departments would like to say thanks to the people who help support the fire department through donations. All the fire departments put in for different grants, sometimes they get one and sometimes they don’t get them, sometimes it takes several years waiting to get one. To get these grants someone has to sit down and write them and this is very time consuming project. As each grant has to be written a certain way and usually several departments are varying for these grants. With certain shortfalls in the different government agencies, the grant money is getting a lot harder to obtain. The Texas Forest Service has been a big help in giving grants to the local departments for training. Yes, we have to do training and it can be costly. Even with these different methods of funding, the departments are many times short of money and sometimes wonder what we are going to do as the price the of fuel and equipment keep going up. All the departments are still short of volunteers to become volunteer firefighters, if you are able to help please contact your nearest fire department. Therefore, not only do the departments have a crisis with money but also with a shortage of firefighters. As I said above, we appreciate all the donations and support that we receive and the firefighters of Tyler County thank you for your support.

Polk County Publishing Company