Volunteer Fire Departments Get State Funds

Some East Texas volunteer fire departments are celebrating today over a piece of Texas legislation that's finally paying off. Volunteer firefighters receive no pay for a tough job, and have very little resources to buy new equipment or train new volunteers. For years small volunteer fire departments have had to scratch for used equipment.

"We can't afford a lot of necessary equipment , a lot of the fittings you know that's a simple little thing but just couldn't afford them" says volunteer chief, Joe Powell, of Lafayette

But a dozen different volunteer fire departments gathered at the Gilmer Civic Center today to receive funding through House Bill 2604.

"It is a day of celebration to show off all the equipment and the tuition money," says Gilmer volunteer fire department chief, Mike Melton.

One by one they got their checks. Through the Texas Forest Service, the measure paid out more than $15 million to volunteer fire departments in Texas, departments that are critical to small towns and communities.

"The volunteer fire departments are the first line of defense against everything, it means so much to us, means even more to them to be able to provide them with new equipment, reliable equipment that they can depend on instead of the hand-me-downs that they've always had in the past," says Texas Forest Service agent, Bobby Young.

Volunteer departments received anywhere from $2,000 to $120,000 in funding today.

Bob Hallmark reporting, bhallmark@kltv.com