Volunteer fire departments struggle under strain - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Volunteer fire departments struggle under strain

LONGVIEW,TX (KLTV)- With no real relief in sight east Texas volunteer firefighters are doing all they can to keep families safe , but are reaching the limit of their modest budgets.

Members of the Judson-Metro VFD are working to get their tank truck back into operation. A common problem for smaller departments who've pressed units into constant service this summer.

"The biggest thing is the amount of work the pressure we put on our equipment our apparatus, it can wear out the equipment, all the pumps and all the motors all the transmissions," says Judson-Metro captain Tom Keith.

"This summer has presented a lot of special needs with the number of calls that we've had 21 in July 14 in August. That burns a lot of fuel and for the trucks themselves plus the pumps have to be running," says Mike Brittain of the Harleton volunteer fire department.

Though they get some county funding, most need fund raisers and donations. And repairing even an old engine can break the bank.

"It can wipe out a small budget in one trip," says Keith.

Harleton VFD faces the same dilemma.

"We've filled up our trucks out of our own pocket before, this many fires, you don't have time to do fund raisers, it's an ongoing problem that all the rural fire departments are facing," Brittain says.

And fighting fires for hours, sometimes 2 or 3 a day, takes its toll.

"We fought the fire yesterday pretty much with shovels and rakes," Keith says.

Members of volunteer departments we spoke with today say regardless of the funding, whether they have equipment or not, they will fight fires by hand if that's what it takes.

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