Rain Rests Volunteer Fire Departments - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/22/06-Longview

Rain Rests Volunteer Fire Departments

With today's rain, some East Texas volunteer firefighters are breathing a sigh of relief, and hoping that the worst of the drought and fire dangers are over.

Their radios and scanners have gone quiet, and that's all right with Harleton volunteer firefighters, who've fought dozens of grass fires in the last three weeks.  "It's been really hard on us, having to go from fire and get more water, watch your fuel because fuel prices are so high... It's been really hard," said volunteer firefighter Phillip Stepherson.

For smaller departments, like Harleton, they've exhausted their resources fighting numerous big grass fires, and haven't even had time to stop for needed routine maintenance on equipment.  "It gives all of the volunteer departments as well as the big departments a time to do a little clean up, maintenance, rest, spend time at home and catch up, so to speak," said Harleton Volunteer Fire Department Chief Mike Harper.

"The fires just seemed like on a day-to-day basis two or three a week and that's tough on a volunteer fire department because we don't have the unlimited budget for fuel and things like that," says Harleton volunteer Mike Brittain.

The rain gives them a chance to try and get back to normal without the threat of constantly going on fire calls. "Might get a chance to watch a few ball games," Harper says.

They don't want to celebrate too early, so they'd like to see a lot more rain in the future. "Wouldn't hurt but I don't want to say anything and jinx it," says volunteer Jeff Strong.

Bob Hallmark, reporting. bhallmark@kltv.com

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