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Texas A&M Forest Service debuts grant to help volunteer fire departments recruit

Posted at 5:58 PM, Feb 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-07 17:55:48-05

BRAZOS COUNTY, Texas — Volunteer fire departments in Texas here in the Brazos Valley can now look forward to some help on the way.

The Texas A&M Forest Service is now offering volunteer recruitment resources grants provided through the U.S. Forest Service.

Chief Joe Warren with the Brazos County Volunteer Fire Department Precinct 4 applied for the rural VFD assistance program.

He said while retaining personnel is a hard task, these grant funds will make the process more doable.

“It’s hard to get people to volunteer now with all the requirements on them to get certified and then train by the department,” Warren said.

“It’s a lengthy process. This will free up some money we can use for advertising.”

Jason Keiningham with Texas A&M Forest Service said this new grant is another opportunity to pour back into the lives of our first responders.

“This is a new opportunity,” said Jason Keiningham, Capacity Building Department Head, Texas A&M Forest Service.

“This is a pilot project and we wanted to try and take a stab at helping in this other area that’s a need for our volunteer fire departments, because they are the front line of defense in the state in the protection of life and property.”

The grant will fund promotional items to help with marketing and campaigning.

Volunteer fire departments can apply for reimbursement of 100 percent of the actual cost for recruitment resources.

“We have air marked 300 thousand dollars for this purpose to acquire volunteer recruitment purposes such as station banners, flyers, mailouts, booth signage,” Keiningham said.

All in an effort to gain more personnel.

“People are busy with their work schedule with their own life with their kids,” said Warren.

“We just don’t have the volunteers in the community that used to be here at one time.”

Chief Warren said his fire department is fortunate to have 17 personnel on the roster and is in the process of adding more.

“One of them is already a trained firefighter EMT and the other one is a paramedic so that helps us out a lot that they’re coming in here with some training and background already, and they both work for emergency service departments within the Brazos Valley,” Warren said.

Keiningham said there are over 1,300 volunteer fire departments in Texas.

“We work alongside these men and women, all across the state on large wildfires, hurricanes, floods,” Keningham said. “We’re right there in the trench with them. We want to see them successful, safe, and equipped and have the numbers they need to address the complexities of the calls they have in their service area.”

Through a $2 million dollar fund, volunteer fire departments are also eligible for a grant through the State Firefighter’s and Fire Marshal’s Association of Texasfor marketing and recruitment and potentially new member training and PPE.

To learn more about the Rural Volunteer Fire Assistance Program, visit here.

For the State Firefighter’s and Fire Marshal’s Association of Texas grant, visit here.