Ben Wheeler VFD splits from board, causing bank accounts to freeze

Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 7:27 PM CST

BEN WHEELER, Texas (KLTV) - After a rift between the Ben Wheeler Volunteer Fire Department and its Board of Directors, accounts were frozen Tuesday leaving the department with limited money on-hand. This puts their ability to answer calls in jeopardy.

Members of the department say shutting down is not an option.

“We will not let the people of Ben Wheeler down. We will be here no matter what. We will work hard, I mean even if that means running just one truck,” said Amanda Norman, secretary for Ben Wheeler VFD. “We will all pile into that one truck and we will put the gas in it and we will be there. Do not be afraid to call for help.”

Norman said the department is three months behind on its electricity bill and the split from the board led the bank to freeze account they need in order to pay those bills and for day-to-day operations.

Right now, Norman said the department has about $7,000 on hand outside the frozen accounts.

Ashlee Kranning is a volunteer firefighter and the department’s new treasurer. She said the money on hand is not enough to fuel their trucks for long.

“Instead of us being able to jump in and go and actively serve our community, now we’re thinking in the back of our minds, oh gosh, you know we have to replace this. You know, where is this money gonna come from because we’re limited on funds.” said Kranning.

And once the money is gone, the department will have to find other avenues for funds.

“We will try our best to hold a fundraiser. We will pull out of our pockets if we have to. We will exhaust all options that we can to keep us running.” said Norman.

There are 10 firefighters, including the chief and assistant chief at this time. Assistant Fire Chief J.R. Bond said those 10 members have had to step up and take on board positions due to the split.

“And I’ve been very very excited to know that I have 10 firefighters on this fire department that had come together and stood together and at this point and said you know we want to be transparent and we want to do what’s right for the community.” said Bond.

Norman said they’ve made county officials aware of the fact that they may need outside help to answer calls.