Increased funding for Texas volunteer fire departments
POSTED: Friday, April 5, 2013 - 6:00pm
UPDATED: Sunday, April 7, 2013 - 8:02am
Tyler, TX (KETK) — Republican State Representative David Simpson of Longview says, Volunteer Fire Departments in Texas need to be rescued.
Simpson tells KETK, he wants to reinstate funding which was cut in 2011.
Simpson says, lawmakers need to stop cutting and start voting to assist Volunteer Fire Departments.
They're on call just like paid city firefighters.
"Anytime we have a call we have volunteers that respond from their personal residences or wherever they are if they're available to run," says Michael Grimes, Volunteer Fire Department.
Republican State Representative for East Texas, David Simpson, is proposing five amendments to lawmakers to reinstate Volunteer Fire Department funding.
Simpson says, Texas had some of the biggest fires ever in 2011.
"72% percent of fire departments are volunteers and their resources we greatly deplenished or diminished, they need to be supported and we've already collected the money for it," says David Simpson, Republican State Representative.
KETK visited Dixie Volunteer Fire Department in Tyler to discuss needed funding.
"You're looking a 30-million dollar increase in funding in the state of Texas for Volunteer Fire Departments that will go along ways," Matt York, Assistant Chief.
In 2011, the departments were hit with a 75% budget cut, from 30 million to 7 million putting several counties at risk when Texans rely on these departments.
They say, it costs a lot of to keep the department going.
"Keep up maintenance on the trucks we have to be able to purchase gear for our firefighters," says Michael Grimes.
"Fuel costs going up every year everything, electricity, insurance everything goes up, we have two different stations but we only have the man power for one," says Matt York.
As of Friday afternoon, April 5th, Marshall News Messenger reports,
The Marshall News Messenger-article
"The Texas Legislature voted on Thursday to table an amendment to the 2013 Texas budget that would transfer funds from the Texas Commission on the Arts to volunteer fire departments.
The amendment to amendment 116, authored by Representative David Simpson of Longview, was tabled in a 108-38 vote.
Representative John Otto spoke out against the amendment saying taking money from the Economic Development and Tourism program which helps the TCA would take money that helps create jobs.
"We're pulling money from what create(s) jobs in the state," he said.
Amy Barbee, executive director for the Texas Cultural Trust concurred.
"This would be a drastic reduction and it would definitely be a devastating blow to the agency," she said. "The message that the Trust wants to get out there is that arts are an economic development tool to the state."
Ms. Barbee also said that reducing funding could affect having the arts in schools, which was important because in some cases the only exposure students have to art is at school."