The Hemphill and Six Mile Volunteer Fire Departments each received a $200,000 cost share grant through the Rural Volunteer Fire Department Assistance Program administered by Texas A&M Forest Service.

Texas State Representative Chris Paddie, County Judge Daryl Melton, Mayor Robert Hamilton, both fire chiefs and department members were present for a big check presentation celebrating the new tenders purchased with these grant funds.

“The Texas A&M System and The Texas A&M Forest Service are here to support and thank the volunteer firefighters in rural Texas who make sacrifices every day for their communities,” Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp said. “Lawmakers – like Representative Chris Paddie – also deserve praise for understanding the need to protect the people and property of rural Texas.”

Fire Chief Lonnie Johnston of the Six Mile VFD and Fire Chief Glen Chance of the Hemphill VFD felt these new additions would resolve the lack of a water source in their areas.

“The Six Mile VFD tender has a 2,000-gallon water tank and will be our front-line apparatus, increasing our water capacity on arrival at a fire scene and will be especially beneficial in the areas where there aren’t many fire hydrants,” said Johnston.

Enhancing wildfire preparedness in areas likely to experience large, long-duration wildfires that impact human life and property is necessary for efficient and effective response, and having safe, up-to-date vehicles is important.

“The Hemphill VFD tender is replacing a 1994 truck and will serve as a combination apparatus for structural and wildland firefighting and can carry 1,850-gallons of water” said Chance. “It will allow for greater firefighting power since it carries more water and was built with increased firefighting safety as well.”

The National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy, mandated by Congress in 2009, is a strategic and collaborative process involving all stakeholders across all landscapes to seek meaningful progress towards solutions of wildfire management issues, including safe and effective wildfire response.

“I want to thank all of our volunteer firefighters,” said State Representative Chris Paddie. “They are selfless heroes who work tirelessly to keep East Texans safe.  It was an honor to be here today to thank them for all that they do, as well as to make sure they have the equipment they need to keep us all safe.  I look forward to continuing to work with our local volunteer firefighters and the Texas A&M Forest Service to ensure that our communities are safe, and our firefighters are properly trained and equipped.”

Both fire chiefs expressed the importance of the Texas A&M Forest Service having grant programs available to volunteer fire departments. Approximately seventy percent of the fire service in Texas is filled by volunteer fire departments and having up-to-date equipment helps to make firefighting safer and more proficient. Each fire chief also extended appreciation to their communities for continued monetary support even during the time of COVID-19 when there was not opportunity for fund raising that helps with upkeep and fuel for the departments.

Texas A&M Forest Service is committed to protecting lives and property through the Rural Volunteer Fire Department Assistance Program, a cost share program funded by Texas State Legislature and administered by Texas A&M Forest Service. This program provides funding to rural Volunteer Fire Departments for the acquisition of firefighting vehicles, fire and rescue equipment, protective clothing, dry-hydrants, computer systems and firefighter training. 

For more information on programs offered by Texas A&M Forest Service, please visit http://texasfd.com.